Egyptian Policeman Receives Life Sentence for Raping Disabled Girl in Police Station

egyptian trial, photo by middle east voices

egyptian trial, photo by middle east voices

CAIRO, Egypt - According to the activist Engy Ghozlan of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR), nearly 200,000 rapes occur annually in Egypt. This figure was presented in response to a 2008 U.N. report which quoted Egypt's Interior Ministry's figure which was significantly less. (Source: ECWR).

As in many countries rapes in Egypt are one of the most under-reported crimes, and until recently, many perpetrators weren't brought to trial because of lack of interests or cultural biases which blamed the woman for allowing herself to be raped.

In August 2014, a 17-year-old mentally disabled teenage girl walked into the Imbaba Police Station in Cairo's low-income neighbourhood of Imbaba to report her abduction by two men earlier that day. Instead of receiving just consideration of her charges, or even for the police to initiate an investigation, Khaled Abdel-Rahman Mohamed, the policeman on duty, inexplicably locked the teenager a cell.

Other female prisoners confirmed the testimony of the girl in which she stated that she was subsequently taken forcibly from the cell by Mohamed ostensibly for further questioning. It is alleged that he dragged her by her hair and raped her in the corner of the station. Two women in an adjacent jail cell watched the assault through a crack in the cell door. A camera also bore silent witness to the girl's ordeal and was crucial to proving the guilt of the officer.

Egyptian law permits rapists to be sentenced to death for the rape of any female under the age of 18; however, on 7 June 2015 the court sentenced Mohamed to life in prison.

Changing Egypt: Nine Men Convicted of Sexual Assaults

anti-sexual harassment anti-police failures demo, press syndicate photo by hossam el- amalawy

anti-sexual harassment anti-police failures demo, press syndicate photo by hossam el- amalawy

CAIRO, Egypt — A Thomson Reuters Foundation survey last year showed that Egypt has been the worst Arab country for women. A swell of gang rapes, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, and other crimes against women have been on the rise since the Arab Spring.

In President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s continued efforts to combat the high incidence of sexual assaults in Egypt, Wednesday an Egyptian judge convicted nine men of committing sexual assaults. The men, ages 16-49, received extensive sentences ranging from 20-years to life in prison, reported the state-run newspaper al-Ahram.

The Guardian reports that 250 sexual assaults have been documented since the Tahrir riots in 2011, for the first time they resulted in a police investigation and the president visiting with a victim. The arrests of the men were made in response to the country’s new law that more thoroughly defined sexual assault and imposed stricter penalties. As some of the most severe sexual assault sentences the country has seen, it shows the country’s dedication to cracking down on the crime.

Seven of the nine men have been sentenced to life in prison. In addition to sexual assault they were all charged with and of attempted rape, attempted murder and torture, according to Reuters. They also reported that these are the longest sentences for sexual assaults that Egypt has since President Sisi's campaign to criminalize sexual assaults.

As is customary in Egyptian courts, the accused men stood in cages while the verdicts were read to them. Reuters reported that when the verdicts were delivered the convicted men shouted "injustice" as their relatives supposedly attacked journalists. It was also said that a woman involved in one of the case began to cry out of relief upon hearing the verdicts.

Some question if the sentencing was too harsh for the crime. The 16-year-old defendant received a 20-year prison sentence and a 19-year-old defendant received two 20-year terms of imprisonment. A prominent Egyptian activist and lawyer Gamal Eid told Reuters, “This ruling gives a strong message to all harassers that their actions are no longer tolerated or accepted ... But the ruling on the teenagers was a bit harsh and could have been reduced.” But, Nashaat Agha, a lawyer for one of the victims defended the rulings saying, “This verdict is pure justice and the least that those people can get for the crimes they committed.”

The majority of the assaults happened in June during street celebrations of the inauguration of President Sisi. Most other reported assaults also happened at mass celebrations. One of the men sentenced to life received separate charges of attacking women. He assaulted women at only a celebration for the inauguration of President Sisi, and also at a celebration for the anniversary of the overthrow of despotic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. With the upcoming celebrations for the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, it will test if these convictions can deter sexual assaults.

However, legislating against sexual assaults has yet to transform the public perception of the crime. Dalia Abd el-Hameed, a co-founder of Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment, a movement that combats gang sexual assaults believes that the social view of sexual assaults is most important saying to The New York Times, "The most important thing is the social component," she said. "If something is criminalized by law, but society accepts it, it will continue happening."

The government is taking special action to change people's attitude towards sexual assault in addition to the newly adopted laws. It was reported by The Guardian that officials proposed rewarding screenwriters who produce "female-friendly television shows". Also, they reported that a female television presenter was suspended after she mockingly laughed at Tahrir victims when they were brought up by her co-presenter. She defended the attackers saying they were just "happy", according to Reuters.

That being said, the governmental action being taken against sexual offenders in Egypt is confronting their overlooked sexual assault issue. El-Hameed told The New York Times she believed that the sentences are a “good step to end the state of impunity that perpetrators enjoyed.”

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Related articles

Changing Egypt: Sexual Harassment Criminalized

Allyson Cartwright, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 00:28 a.m. DST, 18 June 2014

Aliya Mehdi - علياء مهدي, Photo by Gigi Ibrahim

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, has approved amendment to sexual harassment laws this month that would make sexual harassment a punishable offense with fines and prison sentences.

This action from Mansour also reflects newly-elected incoming President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s stance against sexual harassment. Sisi has recently been vocal about his condemnation of Egypt’s high sexual harassment rates.

According to CNN, the 2013 United Nations report, "Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women", showed that over ninety-nine percent of Egyptian women claim that they have been the victims of some kind of sexual harassment. And The Guardian says that since 2011, there have been over 250 mob sexual attacks at Cairo rallies, according to rights groups.

Mansour’s newly-passed law is a response to international pressure, especially from the US, to reform sexual harassment laws in Egypt. This new law will make sexual harassment a crime with the penalties ranging from fines of at least 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($420) to at least six months of jail time, according to Newsweek.

The law stratifies the severity of different forms of sexual violence, making the more severe have stricter punishments. The baseline definition of sexual harassment the law defines is "implying sexual or obscene gestures, including modern means of communication,” as reported by CNN. This level of harassment is punishable by at least six months in prison, barring any aggravated measure. More severely, CNN says, if the sexual harassment is made with "the intent of receiving sexual gratification from the victim," then the punishment could rise to one year in prison.

Egypt’s soon-to-be President Sisi, however, has come under fire in the past for his treatment of the country’s problems with sexual violence. It was under his leadership as military chief that he defended the Egyptian military’s use of “virginity tests” on female protesters who claim abuse, according to Newsweek.

Despite this, Sisi has recently made strides denouncing sexual harassment when he met publically with a victim, three days after his inauguration. The photocall involved Sisi bringing a bouquet of roses to the hospital bedside of a 19-year-old victim of a mob-related sexual assault, according to CBS News. The victim was at a rally celebrating the election of Sisi when she was stripped and attacked.

When Sisi met with the girl, video showed him standing at her bedside with hospital staff and military aides, as he apologized to the victim. CBS News says that in the video he tells her, "I have come to tell you that I am sorry. I am apologizing to every Egyptian woman." He goes on to say, "We as a nation will not allow this to happen again."

Furthermore, Sisi requested that YouTube remove the video of a sexual assault victim from the website on her behalf. The video shows the woman being stripped and dragged through Tahrir Square at a Sisi election rally, according to Newsweek.

The spokesperson for Sisi released a statement on the YouTube request saying, "The Egyptian embassy in Washington DC and a number of Egyptian authorities, at the direction of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, have requested the YouTube administration to remove the video of the sexual assault victim," it continued, "This came in response to her wish, which she expressed during the president's visit to her yesterday at the hospital to check on her condition."

The recent actions by Sisi are promising for the future of Egypt under his presidency. Mozn Hassan, the director of rights group Nazra for Feminist Studies said to The Guardian, "What Sisi did gives a clear message that the government recognizes that this is happening." However, Hassan skeptical of Sisi says, "But the problem is that saying sorry is not the state's responsibility. The state's responsibility is to bring accountability to the people who did it, and to implement a strategic, systematic plan to combat this and eradicate the issue."

Hopefully, with Manour’s criminalization of sexual harassment in addition to Sisi’s public condemnation of the crime, Egypt incidence of the crime will decrease and women’s rights improve. Egypt's National Council for Women seems to be optimistic as they say of the new laws, "(The decision) reflects the keenness of the state and the interest in the protection of women and preservation of their rights."

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Woman Stripped Naked, Beaten by Mob in Tahrir Square

5388980100_3c45fda9ea_z.jpg

Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 07:45 p.m. DST, 11 June 2014

"حسنا" Photo by: Andrea Volpini

CAIRO, Egypt -- The inauguration of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday, 8 June, was a cause for celebration and excitement throughout much of Egypt. But hours after the commencement of al-Sisi's presidency, the festivities turned violent. Several women were sexually assaulted and battered in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.

Since Sunday, nine men have been arrested in connection to the string of assaults. The mob targeted at least five women, surrounding and sexually assaulting them. The torture proved extremely serious; four of the women were transported to the hospital after the vicious attacks.

The violent crowd of men surrounded a range of women, including one pregnant Egyptian, and a mother who had been enjoying the Tahrir Square scene with her daughter before the mob encircled and violated her.

The criminals moved through the square with relative impunity, stripping one woman completely naked and lacerating her. The attack went on far too long before police were able to separate her from the mob. According to reports, the security officers threatened to discharge their weapons, but no shots were fired.

Today, 11 June, women responded to the series of attacks that followed Sunday's inauguration, gathering in Tahrir Square as a statement of solidarity and resilience. Sexual assault has become commonplace in Tahrir Square, especially during the massive protests in 2011 and 2013 that saw President Mubarak and President Morsi removed from office. Women who demonstrated during this pivotal political time were often silenced through sexual assault, which at the time was not a punishable crime in Egypt.

A study published by the United Nations finds that 9 out of 10 Egyptian women have been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or raped.

Thursday of last week, 5 June, new legislation was implemented by the provisional government to protect women from sexual assault, and hold perpetrators responsible for the first time in Egyptian history. Advocates of the measure hope that it will curtail the growing problem.

Tahrir Square has become very much a symbol of Egyptian liberty and self-determination, as men and women took to Tahrir Square during instrumental demonstrations in 2011 and 2013, to speak out against governments that did not represent their best interest.

It is my hope that the continuing protests, aimed at promoting gender equality and safeguards for Egypt's women, will be as revolutionary as the demonstrations for political reform in 2011 and 2013.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

What the Election of Sisi Means for Egypt

Abdul Fattah el-Sisi

Abdul Fattah el-Sisi

CAIRO, Egypt—In a landslide victory, former military chief Abdul Fattah el-Sisi won the 2014 presidential election in Egypt on Thursday. However, his win is sparking concern for Egyptians who question what will become of the country by reinstating military rule.

El-Sisi resigned from his position as the Egyptian military chief earlier this year in order to receive a presidential bid. The state media says that the polls showed Sisi won with ninety-three percent of the vote. Ahram Online reported a victory message was posted on Sisi’s official campaign Facebook page read, "The nation has put itself, with its great people's will, on the beginning of the right track and has stepped firmly and trustingly ... towards the future they've chosen."

The overwhelming support for Sisi in the polls does not necessarily reflect the country’s sentiments, however. It was predicted that there would be a voter turnout of only forty-six percent. Presidential Elections Commission member Tarek Shebi assessed the final voter turnout at forty-eight percent, according to Ahram Online.

Such low numbers of voter turnout, coupled with the high support for Sisi create skepticism for the legitimacy of the election.  It was reported by CNN that officials even added an extra day to vote, Wednesday, to promote voting, but the attempt proved fruitless. This election did not top the 2012 elections with almost fifty-two percent voter turnout, which does not help Sisi prove his legitimacy.

In addition to the skeptical numbers, the election was plagued with accusations of misconduct. The only opposition, Hamdeen Sabahi claims that his campaign representatives were arrested and attacked, according to CNN. Also, they said that Sisi’s campaign representatives were illegally allowed inside polling places. Allegations of forgery were also made.

The criticism of voter fraud and small voter turnout could be explained by voting boycotts from Sisi detractors. It is reported by BBC News that the Islamist group called the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as some liberal and secular activist groups, boycotted voting in the elections. BBC News also reported a senior member of the Brotherhood, Tariq al-Zumar, called the elections a "theatrical play which did not convince anybody".

Those that celebrate Sisi’s victory hope that his presidency will reverse the radical conservatism that the country saw under the previous presidency of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi-supporters see it as defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood whom the ousted Morsi was a member of.

Sisi has had a relentless response to removing the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt. He is responsible for 16,000 detentions and 1,400 executions of Muslim Brotherhood members, according to BBC News. The group has since been declared a terrorist organization and banned from the country.

But, according to the numbers, there are supporters of Sisi. Al Jazeera says that most of his supporters are leftover Mubarak supporters, like former members of the regime and business people. Also, the Coptic Christians.

Despite the surrounding controversy, Hamdeen Sabahi, Sisi’s opposition, admits defeat. CNN reports Sabahi released the official statement conceding that said, "It is time to respect the people's choice and admit my loss."'

Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

A Political Façade | Egyptian Military Turns Against The People

ministry-of-defense-clashes-photo-by-jonathan-rashad.jpg

Michael Ransom, Senior CorrespondentLast Modified: 21:35 p.m. DST, 04 April 2014

Egyptian Protesters in Chicago, Photo Courtesy of MoMoNWICAIRO - In Egypt’s chaotic political climate, the most basic freedoms are granted one moment and abolished the next, not unlike the seasonal implementation and suspension of the nation’s Constitution.

The same Society of Muslim Brotherhood members that were freely elected into public office less than three years ago are now the subjects of mass incarceration and capital punishment under President Adly Mansour’s administration. And the vast demonstrations that yielded the nation’s first-ever public presidential election in 2012 are now being smothered by state security. Throughout the country, dissent is met with death.

Free speech, peaceful assembly and media protection are now privileges granted only at the convenience of Mansour and the military agenda that he serves. Diplomacy and debate have succumbed to totalitarian suppression. Following a short flirtation with democratic ideals, Egyptians are now subject to the classic tools of fear mongering.

Recent headlines out of Cairo mark the worst abuses to date. The Mansour ministry is responsible for over a thousand civilian deaths, hundreds of mass incarcerations without cause, the suppression and kidnapping of Al Jazeera reporters, unfair trials, and now new claims that some security agents routinely rape and beat jailed protestors. The international community is demanding transparency in the treatment of Egyptian prisoners.

News organizations within the transcontinental nation are reporting the use of rape and torture to intimidate dissenters. A student with suspected allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood has been in police custody in Nasr since February. Since his capture, he has been beaten, tortured and raped by security agents, according to Al Jazeera. Young men and women are both targets of sexual abuse during detainment. This intolerable police brutality is an instrument used to silence this outspoken demographic. Student populations have become so mobilized in the aftermath of former President Mohamed Morsi’s removal that the government has now issued a ban on protests at universities.

For the young man who was raped and attacked by authorities, allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood could carry a death sentence. Last month, 529 men were collectively charged with the killing of a one policeman. The group was found guilty in a proceeding that lasted only a few hours and offered no physical evidence against the individuals. Most were not afforded a defense team, but the lawyers present were unable to speak on their clients’ behalf. The judge sentenced the group to death. The unconscionable decision will likely be repeated when a group of over 600 alleged Brotherhood members stand trial in the coming weeks. Surely, the judicial action is nothing less than mass murder under the guise of democracy.

Objective observers are hard-pressed to find any evidence that the regional turmoil has spurred even baby-steps towards democracy. The reorganization is better described as a <em>do-si-do</em> maneuver, and while a few dancers retired and some others joined in, generally the Republic has returned to its original position on the international stage. Certainly, the political dance in Egypt has been lethal in the past three years.

Unlike Morsi, Mansour gained the presidential pedestal through the military intervention of Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, who was the Commander-in-Chief of Egypt until late last month. Longstanding poverty and ideological schisms could not be solved instantly, but many Egyptians celebrated the first free presidential election. Amidst fanatical disapproval of Morsi during his short stint in Cairo, el-Sisi issued a warning to the incumbent. The president had but two days to ease tensions and rally his countrymen and women together, or he would be driven out by any means necessary.

Advocates of Morsi and proponents of democracy would both agree that the new elect had already garnered the requisite support of his people just a year prior via the ballot boxes throughout Egypt’s 27 districts. Instead of implementing order in the streets according to his constitutional provisions, el-Sisi opted to suspend the constitution altogether. Since then, the mounting fears of unrest have been self-fulfilling, prompting violence between Egyptian neighbors and colleagues. The violence between clashing ideologies are secondary, however, to the totalitarian government’s crimes against humanity, which continue to concern watchdog groups such as Human Rights Watch.

In the final days of March, el-Sisi resigned from his Commander-in-Chief post and has declared his intention to run for the nation’s highest office in the upcoming 2014 election. El-Sisi’s efforts to separate his name from the current chaos will not go unnoticed. Should he be elected to the presidency in the future, certainly he would understand the fragile and temporary nature of the position. In the meantime, the international community will lobby to protect the Egyptian people and their democratic will.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom

Egypt's Victors

egyptian-convoy-at-the-rafah-border-egypt-photo-by-gigi-ibrahim.jpg

Ty Butler, Senior CorrespondentInternational Development and Conflict Last Modified: 23:59 p.m. DST, 22 August 2013

Egypt Special Troops ,Photo by Mahmoud  Gamal El-DinRAFAH, Egypt - At least 25 Egyptian police officers were killed on Monday near the Rafah crossing with Gaza in Egypt’s increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula region. The attack occurred as rocket propelled grenades stuck the security force’s transport while it was en route to a police barracks. Those officers not killed in the initial assault were forced onto the ground by gunmen and summarily executed.

The deaths mark one of the single largest attacks on Egyptian security officials in the Sinai since former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a military coup in early July. This attack however, was not one likely engaged in by pro-Morsi supporters.

While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the slaughter, it is not characteristic of current violence by Muslim Brotherhood supporters or by angry anti-coup protestors. Instead, it mirrors the tactics taken from the playbook of a third major factional arm of Egypt’s current political sphere which is fighting against both the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military.

This third major factional grouping, characterized by a mix of international and regional violent jihadi cells and organizations have thus far been the primary victors surrounding the crisis in Egypt. Islamist political organizations in Muslim majority countries tend to act as something of a barrier against violent radicalism. Some analysts of course may disagree and even suggest the exact opposite; that Islamist political parties aid in rooting conservative discourse into political and social spheres and thus nurture an atmosphere that is more conducive to jihadi recruitment.

Evidence from Iraq however, supports the idea that political Islamists who work within Brotherhood style groups do not tend to transfer into jihadi organizations. That being tentatively established, the military crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt becomes rather troublesome, not only for the sake of preserving democracy within Egypt, but in the fight against international and regional terrorism as well.

As political chaos grows, the position of international jihadis within Egypt strengthens. These militant organizations traditionally view the Muslim Brotherhood in very negative terms. Al Qaeda and related groups disagree vehemently with The Muslim Brotherhood’s dedication to gaining power through largely peaceful means, and often outright curse their willingness to participate within formal political processes. This tension can be seen throughout the jihadi community in numerous writings and statements.

Current leader of Al-Qaeda Central Ayman al-Zawahiri was by no means timid in his fairly harsh critique of the Muslim Brotherhood within his “book” Bitter Harvest. Zawahiri accused the Brotherhood of aligning with the West in the greater jihadi struggle, siding with apostate domestic regimes by participating in elections, and even of protecting Israel from Al-Qaeda.

This condemnation is often mirrored by the leadership of other Al-Qaeda affiliates and international jihadi groups; chief among which perhaps is the Islamic State in Iraq (formerly Al-Qaeda in Iraq) which openly blames the Muslim Brotherhood as the primary reason for its failures within Iraq.

1 Next Page » 2

Published: 22 August 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

In Egypt, the current coup has the potential to leave Islamist youths wondering what exactly the Brotherhood’s pragmatism and dedication to formal political processes has gotten it. Military repression of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood opens a door to violent jihadis who are readily exploiting the situation to their advantage. The discord affords jihadis time to establish stronger roots in the region as primary attention is shifted elsewhere, while simultaneously allowing Al Qaeda and affiliated groups to say “we told you so.”

Jihadi propaganda machines have been running overtime rejoicing at the opportunity to discredit what they view as a flawed path at best, and as traitorous collaboration with Western Crusaders and their allies at worst. The days immediately following the coup saw the creation of at least two new public jihadi organizations within Egypt; Ansar al-Sharia Egypt (it is unclear if it has any connections with the existing Egyptian group that already carries the name), and the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam in Egypt.

Even absent jihadi propaganda, the violent reaction that some anti-coup protestors have demonstrated is highly concerning. Scores of Christian churches have been attacked since the coup in some of the worse displays of sectarian violence that Egypt has recently known. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood may officially stand against sectarian conflict, but that has not stopped disenfranchised individuals (whether or not they claim to support the Brotherhood) from expressing their anger in such ways; a sign perhaps of increasing polarization in the face of current political happenings. Tuesday’s arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide Mohamed Badie is unlikely to do much to help the situation, nor are talks of forcibly dissolving the Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood is not the ideal political partner in Egypt for the United States and other western countries. There is little denying that the organization is a conservative Islamist party, and one that is often quite vocal in its opposition to US foreign policy. Uncomfortable international dealings aside though, there is little to justify the coup in Egypt.

Simply put, the military ousted a democratically elected leader, dissolved a democratically elected parliament, and suspended a democratically approved constitution. President Morsi’s attempted power grab through the self-granting of extraordinary powers was deeply concerning. It is also true that there was popular disapproval of the political and economic climate under Brotherhood rule; however, such realities does little to diminish the imagery of yet more military strong arming within Egypt in direct violation of democratic mechanisms for the conveyance of disagreement (IE: voting).

The continued weakening of the Egyptian state apparatus through outright authoritarian crackdowns and the targeted marginalization of historically ideologically non-violent political Islamists can only play into the hands of those who advocate increased violence, both domestically and internationally. International jihadism has found itself an unwitting ally in the Egyptian military, and the repercussions will impact the security of all.

Return to Page 1»

Follow Ty Butler on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @TywButler