Vigils in 35 countries condemn harassment of Egyptian women

Scores of people held a vigil in Talaat Harb Square in downtown Cairo Tuesday, denouncing what they called “sexual terrorism of women in Egypt.” Those in attendance said the government has failed to protect female protesters and activists during demonstrations and marches recently.

Meanwhile, dozens of mostly women also staged a protest on the stairs of Alexandria Library that same evening.

They held banners that read "No to harassment," "A harasser is no human," and "Be a man and protect women instead of harassing them," protesting the harassment of women during marches and demonstrations around Tahrir Square in the capital.

They also demanded harassers be punished for trying to scare women away from activism.

Similar gatherings are being held in Damietta and Mansoura, according to  Sally Zohny, cofounder of the Facebook group "Uprising of Women in the Arab World", which was one of the organizations behind the protests.

The demonstrations are in conjunction with similar vigils being held in 35 countries on Tuesday.

The vigils, staged outside Egyptian embassies and consulates, were in support of victims of sexual harassment and violence in recent weeks following the second anniversary of the Egyption revolution's beginning.

“We have received photos and data from activists expressing their solidarity with this cause,” she said.

Outside the Egyptian Embassy in Armenia, activists carried banners that read “Solidarity with Egyptian Women.” They said the advancement of Egypt depends on the liberation of women.

Despite harsh conditions, Syrians participated in an electronic vigil, apologizing for being unable to demonstrate in person before the Egyptian Embassy in Damascus due to risks of arrest.

This is the first non-virtual initiative organized by the page that was founded by four women from Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia in 2011. The page has organized two electronic campaigns on social networking sites.

Sexual harassment and assaults at demonstrations are on the rise since the second anniversary of the revolution.

Some observers suggested the attacks are organized and systematic, with the intention both of disparaging the protests and scaring women away from participating in the public sphere.  

Some activists accused the Muslim Brotherhood of contributing to the attacks on those protesting its rule.

Members of the Shura Council Human Rights Council during a Monday session, said that given that women know they will be attacked, they should take full responsibility for choosing to take part in protests and marches.

The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights condemned these comments, calling them an insult to female demonstrators and reiterating that those on the receiving end of sexual harassment and violence are not to blame.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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