Two years after the revolution, the Tahrir square is again filled with demonstrators. Tens of thousands Egyptians protest against the presidential decree which bring president Morsi extensive new power and immunity towards the judiciary. The opposition of President Morsi accuses the president of dictatorial pretentions. They believe that the Muslim Brotherhood of Morsi accomplishes too much power and they demand more freedom. For an impression of the protest watch the video of NOS and for more information about the reasons behind the protests at the Tahrir square read the article on de Belgium site of VRTnews.
Attending these demonstrations is not safe for women. They are often being attacked, groped and even raped by large group of men. Bystanders often have to watch helplessly. These sexual assaults are not new at the Tahrir square. Last year during the revolution there were also reports about women who were harassed.
The Dutch journalist Kirsten van den Hul reports the protests and follows the Egyptian feminist movement. On her blog she wrote: ‘There are lots of women on the square, some with their children, many of them carrying banners demanding justice. “Aren’t you afraid?” I ask a group of giggling girls wearing hijabs. “No, not afraid. But it is tough out here for women. There is always the risk of being harassed, groped, or worse.” This risk does not only apply to Egyptian women. There are also several examples of Western women who have been attacked at the Tharir square. The independent journalist Natasha smith reports at her blog that is has happened to her. She describes how a group of men attacked and groped her.
Van den Hul herself has also experienced sexual harassment. She wrote: ‘As I am trying to find my way through the thousands of protesters, someone grabs me from behind. It is way too busy to see who it was. A young photographer rushes to apologies for his fellow-countrymen. “We have a lot to learn here in Egypt. But there is hope!”’. Check out more blogs from Van den Hul at her website, follow her on Twitter or watch the interview with Van den Hul about the Egyptian feminist movement on the Dutch television show Pauw en witteman
The Tahir Bodyguards
A group of Egyptians is sick and tired of these sexual assaulting and founded the ‘Tahrir Bodyguards’. These bodyguards are dozens of men who voluntarily guard the square. They were recognizable orange jackets and intervene when a woman gets harassed. Women in trouble can post their location on Twitter @TahrirBodyguard and the Tahrir Bodyguards will send someone for help. According to Ghazala Irshad, one of the founders of the bodyguards, seems the tactic of the bodyguards to work. ‘”Harassment is still there, fondling, too. Yet women feel stronger because there is protection. I think that men no longer dared to harass a woman.” For more depth, watch the video from NOS and read a real life experience of the first day of one of the bodyguards.
We would like your reaction on this story. Do you think the bodyguards can make a change?