By Nourhan Dakroury
UN Women released a statement on Tuesday expressing its concern about women’s rights in Egypt, following numerous reports of sexual assaults during protests.
The statement read: “UN Women is concerned by reports of the high prevalence of sexual assaults against women in public spaces. UN Women adds its voice to calls for all parties to take a firm stand and show zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Seven human and women’s rights organisations had issued a joint statement claiming that there were 101 cases of sexual assault that occurred in the vicinity of Tahrir Square from 28 June until 3 July.
Mozna Hassan, head of Nazra for Feminist Studies, said that the watchdog group has been monitoring sexual assaults and harassment since 2011.
She said that the situation was bad in November 2012 and worsened in January 2013, on the second anniversary of the January 25th Revolution.
Hassan said: “We demanded investigations and presented the idea of restructuring security and judicial authorities in order to deal better with such cases, but the state didn’t pay attention to any of those demands.”
Hassan added that the state had announced the launch of a Committee for Violence against Women, which has not yet taken any action against the assaults.
Hassan criticised both parties, those anti- and pro-Morsi, during 30 June protests for taking advantage of the assaults and politicising them.
The UN Women statement said that Egyptian women should have the right to participate in the political life without feeling threatened, explaining that their participation in public life is a necessity to achieve democracy.
“Their voices are essential to a peaceful and prosperous Egypt,” added the statement.