Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cairo Rape Victims blog their stories in Egypt

A new development in the mass rape in downtown Cairo, which Truepeers mentioned back in late October.
Let's hope that this can lead to positive change for at least some poor women trapped behind the iron veil of middle east mysoginy:

Assault blog allows Egypt's feminists to let rip
CAIRO -- Three months ago, when the holiday of Eid Al Fitr - the festival marking the end of Islam's holy month of Ramadan - turned into a crazed riot with young men sexually assaulting female bystanders in plain sight, it appeared Egypt had regressed to some far more lawless chapter of its history.

But it now appears those shocking events have galvanized ordinary people to take matters into their own hands. The outrage felt by Egyptian women at the attacks that took place in downtown Cairo last October, as well as at the indifference of authorities in the events' aftermath, has reverberated through the streets - and carried on cyber-waves - sparking a new, uncharted feminist movement in Egypt.

Leading the charge is a young Egyptian female - preferring to remain anonymous due to the nature of the campaign - who has started an Arab-language feminist blog called Atralnada (morning dew). In a country where Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise, and the status of women a subject of much debate, this young activist has made her struggle public, and her blog is empowering Egyptian women to speak out in turn.

"I wanted to post about my personal experiences of being harassed," she says simply, adding that the events of the last Eid celebration had sparked something inside her, compelling her to begin expressing herself in such a fashion.

Particularly galling to her has been the apparent callousness by Egyptian men regarding the assaults. "I am asking women to speak up and tell their stories since most of the men have denied anything [of this nature ever] happens in this country," she points out.

"[Males] write disgusting comments on blogs telling us that we are using the forum to become famous - even though [posters have to be] anonymous - and ... to attract men," she says incredulously.
Atralnada's popularity also points to the technological revolution slowly taking over the country. No longer do ordinary Egyptians need to rely on the more traditional media for their information. Events such as what occurred at the end of Ramadan last year are now reported on similar online forums and over the Internet in general. Blogging in particular is creating citizen-journalists in Egypt who are now able to compete with print newspapers and television for a viable information niche.

Most importantly perhaps, Faisal argues that blogs such as the newly-created Atralnada can help to shape cultural trends and allow more freedom of expression. "If bloggers are to make a real impact, it is by creating an awareness of [their] community ... and [urging ordinary] people and their governments to stop supporting a regime that inhibits freedom of speech," he stresses.

This is exactly what Atralnada tries to accomplish. With scores of women writing their stories online for others to read, the blog creates a bond within women's circles that makes it acceptable to talk about taboo issues such as sexual harassment.

The online posting site is thus helping to meet a need in Egyptian society, which has, at least from the point-of-view of Atralnada's founder, been too long ignored. "I hope people will no longer be afraid to say what has happened to them and that we, as women, can help stop sexual harassment before it boils over like it did during the Eid holiday," she offers.

"No longer do ordinary Egyptians need to rely on the more traditional media for their information. "

This is something that Canadians have in common with Egyptians, and let's hope that this year more of our fellow citizens come to realize that.


Dag said...

Our friend "Reliable Sources" here in Vancouver is in something of a similar spot as many women in Cairo: the powers-tat-be are hacking the blog "downtown eastside enquirer" and are destroying posts, altering them to include vicious and pornographic insults, and are posting hate rants under the name of a homeless man the blog has been covering as he is persecuted by Leftwing carreerists at the Carnegie Learning Center. The efforts of whoever is attacking the blog are nothing short of criminal. This is happening in Vancouver, Canada, not in Cairo. The situation is little different here from what it is there. And the solution is similar as well: bloggers and readers must defend the good and expose to the greater public the evil the Leftists perpetrate.

maccusgermanis said...

Hackers that delete and otherwise vandalize that which they do not agree are cowards. Public servants that think that they can carefully choose the public which they are bound to serve are mistaken.

On a lighter note, you would likely enjoy the movie "Idiocracy."

Dag said...

Macc., I'm laughing over the title without knowing anything more about it.

Good to see you here.

Anonymous said...

dear friends,

i added you to my blogroll...
all the best

holger danske

Anonymous said...

What breaks my heart is that there is no professional help for either rape or abuse victims in Egypt. People will tell you to go see a therapist but unfortunately most therapist are not equipped to deal with such situations. I'm a 22 year old who was raped a few years back and all I could think about was how did I ever let that happen. Our culture forces us 'victims' to blame ourselves because it's always a girl's fault!
I really hope that this changes soon because many girls are going through abuse and rape and they need help and support and they're not getting it, instead they're being denied and they head into darkness because of the rollercoaster of emotions and rage that they don't understand.

truepeers said...

Dear Anonymous,

I guess you are searching the internet for information and understanding that will help you. Obviously it's worrying that our little blog reaches you before anything that might be of more substantial help.

I have been close to a young woman who was raped and have seen how it tormented her for years. I have seen how therapists here in Canada often have little idea how to help people because the task of human self-understanding - understanding ourselves and the others who shape us for better and worse - is truly great indeed and "therapists" are trained in fairly narrow lines of thought.

But in my own life, for different reasons, I have had to dig deeper and deeper for human self-understanding. It's something that never stops of course because we are just peeling back one layer of an onion to find another and another. Still, after a while it does begin to help, in my experience. Understanding goes with the possibility to renew faith, love, and even the kind of forgiveness that can free us from the torment the other has imposed.

So I encourage you to keep reading, widely, in a quest for deeper undertanding of humanity. Best wishes.

truepeers said...

By the way, there's much that can be said about wrongly blaming ourselves, and the rollercoaster of rage that goes with being caught up in violence that we could talk about. This is something very human that many people experience in one way or another. I think the need to transcend that experience is the basis of all cultural renewal, something to which we are called by the divine presence in human life.

Investigation Services said...

Today, way too many rape victims continue to encounter the old sexist and racist responses to rape from family, friends, acquaintances, and authorities. As a rape victim, you may encounter some of these reactions, too. Things are definitely not perfect yet. But it should help you to keep in mind how fast things are changing and what this means for you.

Anonymous said...

Your article erroneously criticizes "Islamic fundamentalism" as the cause of such misogynistic-type acts. Islam actually gives a great amount of respect to women; many of the rights women have had only recently in the West were given by Islam 1,400 years ago. Anyways, it's something to research for people who are more interested.
The problem is actually that most Muslims are not following Islam, not even the basics. They're Muslim by name and that's about it. Worse is when they correlate the progress and technological advancement of the West to its hyper-sexualized culture. That's when you have these horrible attacks (including the one done recently on a CBS reporter) taking place.

truepeers said...

Dear Anonymous,

Why do you think we haven't done research on Islam? But feel free to explain how a religion whose prophet had multiple wives, who captured and slept with women slaves, who advanced different rights of inheritance for men and women, was, in our terms, a modern thinker on women's rights. What is his model for life today, howevermuch we might undertand the reasons for his actions in their historical context?

But, more to the point, how has Islam provided a basis for the individual freedoms, for both men and women, that in future can help sustain the West's economic and technological advancements that you laud, even as you note that it leads to a consumer society in which many people engage in self-destructive behaviours? For example, are women alleged to be "apostates" or "blasphemers" or "hypocrites" allowed to exist in freedom in orthodox Islam? Does Islam really condemn or replace the honour culture of families, clans, and tribes that makes bondage for both men and women to the dictates of family chiefs and the family's good name a daily reality?

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why does it have to be so hard to get over this? I am completly on my own in this but i cannot do it anymore. The whole escapade of pretending everythings fine isnt cutting it. I need to leave