December 22 2011
The photos from Cairo’s Tahrir Square are brutal—women being beaten and stripped by the Egyptian military.
Fourteen people reportedly have been killed and hundreds injured. The Washington Times describes the scene that has angered us at IWF along with some many others around the world:
[The anger] reached its peak when newspapers published a picture of a young woman who was captured today. The woman is seen being brutally beaten by military forces (video included). The unconscious young woman is seen lying on her back, surrounded by baton-wielding soldiers with her torso and bra exposed.
The images show the woman stripped of her black abaya, a wide loose robe usually worn by veiled women, leaving her half naked as they drag her in the street. This brutally treated woman was not only beaten, but also humiliated by the soldiers who stripped her, possibly to insinuate that women who take part in street protests want to be groped.
This kind of treatment of women is the product of the prevalent attitude towards women in the Middle East, where the oppression of women is real,systemic, and violent; it is not just something studied in a gender stereotypes class.
We are horrified, saddened, and enraged by the violence against Egyptian women. But women have not been passive in the face of this brutality. Here how they reacted:
Thousands of women took to Cairo's streets yesterday to protest against attacks on them by security forces trying to quell unrest in the Egyptian capital.
Shouting slogans and surrounded by a protective ring of male protesters, the women's march came days after a brutal attack on a veiled female protester in Tahrir Square. Footage showing her being beaten senseless by military police and having her clothes ripped from her body has received worldwide coverage.
The Muslim Brotherhood, a radical organization (pace the administration’s previous description of them as “secular”) has won at the polls and we may see something far worse than the corrupt Mubarak regime in Egypt.
It is difficult at this point to know if the women who were so disgracefully attacked are on the side of positive change. But we do know that it is wrong to attack protestors in this fashion and that the brutalization of women in particular is symptomatic of a deeper pathology in the Middle East.
Let us hope that the brave response of these women presages change for the better in the Middle East.