Social unrest and political instability in Egypt continue to escalate as women are raped and assaulted daily as an intimidation tactic. Reports allege that Egypt’s newly instated fundamentalist Muslim-led government may be behind the problem, which constitutes a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.
Egypt was one of the countries at the center of the Arab Spring which started in 2010. After President Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Egypt democratically elected its first president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to various reputable news sources, the Muslim Brotherhood now stands accused of "paying gangs to go out and rape women and beat men protesting (the rape)." If true, the accusations implicate Brotherhood members in violationg Egyptian laws that state rape is punishable by death or life in prison.
Women’s rights activists claim the government is paying men to attack women who are protesting in Tahrir Square against President Morsi after he recently expanded his powers. The Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault ("OpAntiSh"), an activist organization that provides medical attention and support to victims, recently reported an increase in mob sex attacks and attacks against female protesters. Although OpAntiSh has no evidence to support state-backed rape squads, officials have gathered numerous testimonials and a pattern of specific times and places that are similar to sexual attacks by Egyptian secret police in 2005 known as "Black Wednesday." The striking similarities between 2005 and today’s attacks signify that the rape and assault of women is not government-specific, but rather is deeply rooted in Egypt’s culture.
The Center for Women’s Rights conducted a study in 2008 that revealed 62% of Egyptian men confessed to sexually harassing a woman, and 53% believed women brought the assault on themselves. Egyptian society’s attitude toward rape and sexual assault is likely the reason behind low levels of reports. Even though women are assaulted daily, the number of rapes reported in Egypt continues to remain small. In 2012, only 129 women reported being raped, compared to over 80,000 reported cases of forcible rape in the United States in 2009 alone.
The rape and sexual assault of women in Egypt became national news in the United States in February 2011 after CBS correspondent Lara Logan was attacked while reporting on the Arab Spring in Tahrir Square. Logan suffered a 30-minute sexual assault in which she thought she would die, and later described the ordeal as being "rape by their hands."
Rape and sexual assault are heinous crimes in which the government should be the protector of victims and not the perpetrator. If the Egyptian government is paying gangs to rape and assault women to deter protests against the government, the United States and other western governments have a responsibility to protect the women of Egypt. The Egyptian government can no longer be allowed to violate women without consequence.