Tuesday, March 8, 2011

#Jan25 #Egypt #IWD Why the Fight Must Go On

I write this note while I'm not in #Egypt wishing I was there for #Jan25, #AmnDawla and today for #IWD. Although personally I do not think that women should have marched to call for their own equality or that social issues should be gendered and the fight should not be about women's rights it should be implicit in the fight for everyone's rights religion, sex, gender, orientation and age. But after what happened today in #Tahrir which was brutal and inexcusable the spotlight has been cast on the issue of women in the public sphere and it has become explicit and the FIGHT MUST GO ON. Because now if that fight would stop it basically means that not the issue of equality, but women as individuals have been effectively pushed away from the public/political sphere. The repercussions of today's violence will haunt the women as individuals in the future and since what was implicit has been made explicit now needs to be fought explicitly.

The first and foremost issue that should be addressed is the issue of sexual harassment: This is a daily occurrence for women living in Egypt that cuts across age, religion, external appearance and class. This is an issue of daily tolerated abuse regardless whether you are going to work, to the "disco", to the mosque or the grocery store. This is a message from society telling women to stay outside of the public sphere. This should be the first and foremost issue to address. I also believe at this point it should be the only issue that women should come together to address. The demand needs to be clear, unity and mobilization need to be about a noncontroversial issue that regardless of how conservative a person is, sexual harassment will not be condoned by anyone. Egyptian women need to call out for first for society to take a stance against this daily public violation and then secondly the Azhar to officially condemn sexual harassment and for the state to officially condemn and punish it (though much harder now)

Secondly, mobilization is the key so things like this don't happen. Mobilization needs to extend outside of FB. University students across Cairo need to be recruited, athletes, the women's car on the metro, the women's section in mosques, the people not on FB need to be reached. It is one issue and we as women are all fed up of these consistent attempts that tell us we do not belong in public and if we are then we will be punished, humiliated and sexualized.

Thirdly, simply put THE FIGHT now more than ever NEEDS TO GO ON. What happened today should not signal us as women and as society calling for women's rights to end, in fact today if we back off now the future of changes will be extremely bleak.

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