The New York Times reports: During the early days of the revolution against President Hosni Mubarak, a sense of shared purpose and community made Tahrir Square feel like the safest place in Cairo, for women and men. But that collapsed almost the moment Mr. Mubarak left office, on Feb. 11, 2011. Sexual assault and the harassment of women in public, an epidemic problem in Egypt for decades, became alarmingly common again.
The security forces have long used sexual assault as a weapon against political dissent. In a notorious episode in 2005, security officers watched pro-government thugs sexually assault four female demonstrators outside the journalists’ syndicate in Cairo. Prosecutors declined to bring charges, and state and private media outlets blamed the women for exposing themselves.
After Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, military forces trying to disperse demonstrators detained a group of women and subjected them to “virginity tests.” A military intelligence officer named Abdel Fattah el-Sisi publicly defended the practice, arguing that it was necessary to protect soldiers from rape allegations. He is now Egypt’s president. [Continue reading…]