The protests were in part a reaction to horrific images of a woman being beaten and stripped during clashes in Tahrir Square. There have also been reports of virginity tests being given to female protestors who have been detained in the last few months, as well as sexual harassment and intimidation.
This is at a time when as many as 13 protestors have been killed in clashes with the armed forces.
It is very sad that the promise that was given earlier this year for a free and democratic Egypt is now under threat from a military that don’t seem to understand the feelings of the Egyptian people. From the footage of yesterday’s march it seems that women from all walks of life were involved, and they were accompanied by a large contingent of men.
The events in Egypt recently are very sad but the sight of women who refuse to be cowed by the oppressive methods used by the military is very heartening. During the Arab Spring it was always interesting to see the involvement of women in the uprisings, with some of the most prominent figures being female.
In fact, one of the recent recipients of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize was an Egyptian woman, Asmaa Mahfouz, who helped organise protests earlier this year.
Hilary Clinton spoke on this issue recently during a lecture to Georgetown University. She said:
“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people”.
I couldn’t agree more. The only way the dream of freedom and democracy will be fully realised anywhere in the world is with men and women standing side by side as equals. This is something that the protestors yesterday clearly understood and I can only hope that the current military regime will listen.