Mozn Hassan NEW DELHI, India, January 25 (IPS) – Ten years ago, on that day, January 25, one of the world’s greatest revolutions took place in Tahrir Square, Egypt, when protesters streamed into the streets and slogans of ” Bread, Freedom “sang and social justice” and called on one of the longest-serving and autocratic presidents in the region, Hosni Mubarak, to resign. Three weeks later, on February 11, Mubarak resigned as president, relinquishing control of the country to the Egyptian military.
A statement by Amnesty International said that on March 9, 2011, the day after International Women’s Day, several female protesters were detained in Tahrir Square and subjected to severe torture, including beatings, electrocution, and being searched and forced to undergo “virginity tests” and threatened with prostitution.
Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said that “virginity tests” were carried out on female detainees in March to “protect” the army from possible rape allegations.
When the administrative court ruled the practice illegal, a military court acquitted the doctor who performed the tests and sent out a clear message of impunity.
A decade after the January 25 revolution in Egypt, the country continues to thrive on this culture of impunity. A 2013 study by the United Nations found that almost all Egyptian women – 99 percent of those surveyed – were victims of sexual harassment. Egypt has continued to deny allegations of these serious human rights violations and sexual violence. In 2020, rights groups estimated that around 60,000 prisoners in Egypt are political prisoners, including activists, journalists and lawyers
Mozn Hassan, one of Egypt’s most outspoken voices on human rights, founder and executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, worked long before the Egyptian revolution to build an Egyptian feminist movement and support female human rights defenders through legal and psychological interventions in the country found in 2011 instead of.
Nazra for Feminist Studies was founded in Cairo in 2005, where it continued to build the feminist movement in Egypt and the MENA region. “We lose every day, but the feminist movement in Egypt is not a failed movement,” Mozn Hassan told IPS News.
“Being an independent feminist voice can cost you a lot when you are attacked by state actors, assets frozen, travel banned, assisting women on ‘irresponsible liberty’ or facing charges that could bring you to life in prisons, just a few Examples, ”said Mozn.
A travel ban has been imposed on Mozn Hassan since June 2016 after previously harassed Nazra for feminist studies, including subpoenas related to foreign funding cases. In January 2017, the Cairo criminal court decided to freeze the assets of Mozn Hassan and her non-governmental organization Nazra for Feminist Studies. In July 2020, the North Cairo Criminal Court dismissed an appeal against the travel ban and later postponed a review of an application to lift that ban.
“What happens to Nazra is a clear example of how patriarchal and conservative individuals cannot accept feminism and feminist actions. I am just one of other human rights defenders who have been accused of helping women enjoy “irresponsible freedom”.
“We have seen different types of pain, loss and grief. We have seen systematic sexual assault; We see friends celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution in prison during the time of Covid-19. At the same time, women’s movements are fighting for rights, something that has never happened in the Egyptian constitution, ”says Mozn.
In November 2019, at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the member countries of the United Nations criticized the human rights crisis in Egypt, calling for an end to torture and ill-treatment, investigating crimes by security forces, admitting non-governmental organizations and activists to work independently and the Protect human rights while countering terrorism.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and several UN experts have repeatedly condemned ill-treatment in Egypt. Several countries have also urged Egypt to take serious action to stop abuses against women.
“Being an activist is hard, being a feminist is harder, and being a person who is not part of a social gang is even harder in Egypt. It really is a choice, ”says Mozn.
A decade after the revolution in Egypt that overthrew the longtime dictator, it was followed by economic collapse, job losses, deterioration in human rights conditions, brutal military dictatorship, failure of public health systems, and extreme poverty. The Committee for the Protection of Journalists ranked Egypt in third place after China and Turkey in the detention of journalists.
The only way to go ahead is to understand why we do what we do and continue to believe in what is right, says Mozn. “We are supported by the people, there are small changes, but without the process of freedom and democracy the costs will always be higher than the profits. We need a holistic vision put together with the political will to move forward. ”
“Solidarity is the secret that leads us to continue our work and to heal from those who want to stop us. Solidarity was the key aspect of our resilience at Nazra and for me personally, ”says Mozn.
Sania Farooqui is a journalist and filmmaker from New Delhi. She hosts a weekly online show called The Sania Farooqui Show, which invites Muslim women from around the world to share their views.
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