Egyptian Women Defend Their Role in the Revolution, 10,000 March Against the Army's Brutality
Tuesday, an astounding 10,000 women marched through Cairo demanding Egypt's military step down over soldiers' atrocious treatment of female activists. The action is a response to shocking photos that reveal the military dragging women by their hair, stomping them, and even stripping one woman half-naked in the street. Many marchers carried these photos throughout the protest, as they chanted "The daughters of Egypt are a red line," and "Tantawi stripped your women naked, come join us." Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi is the head of the military council controlling Egypt since Mubarak's fall.
The women's demonstration seems to have been effective, as the military council issued a statement of regret for "violations" against women before the protest even ended, the Associated Press said.
According to the AP:
The statement suggested the military's fear that attacks on women could wreck its prestige at home and abroad, which has already been heavily eroded by its fierce, five-day-old crackdown on pro-democracy protesters demanding it surrender power. The ruling generals have campaigned to keep the public on its side in the confrontation, depicting the activists as hooligans and themselves as the honorable protectors of the nation, above reproach.
Hillary Clinton reached out to support Egypt's women, and said on Monday that "This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonors the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform, and is not worthy of a great people."
From the AP:
The images of the half-stripped protester, whose identity is not known, clearly had a powerful resonance. A banner showing a photo of her on the asphalt — one soldier yanking up her black robes and shirt, another poised to stomp on her chest — was put up in Tahrir Square for passing drivers to see…
Many accused the military of intentionally targeting women to scare them and their male relatives from joining protests against the generals. Previously, the military has implied women who joined protests were of loose morals. In March, soldiers subjected detained female protesters to humiliating tests to determine if they were virgins.
The protest also is likely to deepen the predicament of the military as critics began to talk openly about putting them on trial for abuses, and politicians are floating ideas for their exit, perhaps in return for immunity.
The military has been warned: Women must have a place in the revolution.