On International Women’s Day: Women in Egypt live an unjust reality, and face a dark future
On the occasion of International Women’s Day () on 8 March, the Committee for Justice (CFJ) said that Egyptian women are subjected to an unprecedented wave of repression, abuse of their rights, and attempts to legalize such violations.
CFJ said that Egyptian women, as a main component of Egyptian society, have been the subject of repression by security services, which was monitored by the various mechanisms of action within the organization.
Through the most important project of CFJ, Detention Watch, the organization has monitored 554 violations against 224 women in detention facilities and prisons in Egypt, during 2020.
These violations included several forms, such as the enforced disappearance of 92 women, and the torture of 43 others. As for the poor conditions of detention against women, 191 cases were monitored, and 228 women were deprived of their freedom during the same period.
“The reality observed by the organization’s mechanisms confirms that repression in Egypt does not differentiate between a man and a woman and that the injustice inflicted on women by the Egyptian regime has crossed all red lines, whether within Egyptian society, or the principles of international and humanitarian law, and we monitored many cases in which female detainees were harassed and threatened with rape,” Shaimaa Elbanna, Media officer at CFJ, said.
Threats of rape and denial of health care:
Among the cases that were monitored and documented by the organization’s observers is the case of Aya Ashraf Muhammad Al-Sayed, a 23-year-old accountant working for a children’s clothing company, residing in al-Khanka in the Qalyubia governorate, where she was arrested on October 3, 2018. Aya was taken to the National Security headquarters in Shubra al-Khaimah and was subjected to enforced disappearance for 119 days, from October 5, 2018, to January 27, 2019.
Aya was subjected to many violations. She was physically harassed, threatened with rape, photographed naked more than once during her interrogation, and electrocuted to force her to confess to the charges against her, and she was threatened with the arrest of her brother and mother. In addition, she was barred from visits for two months. On February 5, 2021, she was stripped of her belongings in Al-Qanater prison and was expelled to the criminal ward.
Likewise, the lawyer and human rights defender Hoda Abdel Moneim Abdel Aziz Hassan, 61, was arrested on November 1, 2018, and subjected to psychological and physical torture inside a headquarters of the National Security, and remained forcibly disappeared for nearly 20 days.
Hoda was held in Al-Qanater prison, where she was placed in the military ward, which is completely isolated from the rest of the prison, although she suffers from a chronic blood clot in a deep vein in the heart, with strokes extending to the lung. She also suffers from high blood pressure, severe inflammation in the joints and spine, and a stroke in her right foot.
On November 22, 2020, Hoda’s condition deteriorated, and she felt severe pain, which necessitated her transfer to Manial University Hospital, with a suspicion that she had appendicitis. After the tests were carried out for her, she was informed that her left kidney had stopped working and that she suffered a retraction in the right kidney. However, the prison administration and Manial Hospital refused to allow her or her family to view the medical reports or the results of the medical tests
Although more than two years have passed since her detention pending case 1552/2018, Supreme State Security, in violation of Article 143 of the Criminal Procedure Law No. 145/2006, and despite the attempts of her lawyer and her husband, she has not yet been released.
Khaled Muhammad Ahmad Badawi, her lawyer and husband, submitted a memorandum to the first public attorney of the Supreme State Security Prosecutions to request her release due to the expiry of her pretrial detention after more than two years. On 11/25/2020, a complaint was submitted to the Public Prosecutor to release her and was registered under 5861/2020. But she is still in detention until now.
Legalization of discrimination against Egyptian women:
“The regime in Egypt is now seeking to legalize discrimination against women, through the amendments submitted to the Egyptian Parliament regarding the Personal Status Law, which carries with it a lot of discrimination directed against Egyptian women, who have suffered and are still suffering from a legal painful reality with blatant discrimination,” Elbanna added.
CFJ in cooperation with 6 other human rights organizations, and more than 300 feminist organizations and public figures, have all declared their rejection to those amendments, which were formulated without the knowledge of Egyptian civil society, and embrace a regressive philosophy against Egyptian women.
These amendments deprive women of the legal status to conclude a marriage contract. The male guardian is given the right to judicially annul the marriage without the woman’s consent. The draft law also fails to certify women’s right to bear witness for marriage contracts and seizes the mother’s guardianship over the funds of her minor children. Guardianship is granted to the father and grandfather alone, even if the wife is the financial supporter of the entire family. The bill also continued to discriminate against Christian women, by denying them custody of their children if their husband converts to Islam.
Therefore, CFJ called on the Egyptian authorities to respect the Egyptian Constitution, which stipulates in article 40 that “All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal rights and duties without discrimination between them due to race, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed.”, and stop discrimination against women in Egyptian society in all its forms, and work to stop and review the legislation that discriminates against women.
The organization also called for an end to the brutal security campaigns against everyone who defends the rights of women in Egypt, for which dozens of women’s rights defenders are now behind bars, in light of an unjust reality and a dark future for Egyptian women.