Friday, March 9, 2012

In the Cusp of a Parody

First there was news that the dictator toppled.
Then there came news that the country was in a quandary, not knowing which way to go.
Then there was information on how women were being subjected to forced virginity tests.
Then there came information that a young girl had decided to put up naked pictures of herself, in protest that her body shall not be made a battleground.
And then there was a horrific video of a woman being stripped and beaten, and a firsthand account of a journalist whose hands were both broken.

One year in Egypt, in the post-dictatorial march up to democracy has been a messy confluence of angered activism and suppression reminiscent of that under the erstwhile Mubarak regime’s activities and the biggest impact of these have been on the women.

Samira Ibrahim was one of the victims of the forced virginity tests by the Egyptian soldiers, and together with her father, she filed a case in court against the military courts to claim her rights. The case has met with success, as the administrative court imposed a ban on these tests, challenging the authority of the military council.
Women's Rights in Egypt: As much a relic as such Art?

Even as the people of Egypt denounced their despotic ruler in the hope of a future that would ensure the enforcement of their guaranteed rights, the situation for women has been far from the aspired reality. The revolution emboldened women to come out and make their claims to the rights they were denied for so long, to seek a place in public life- whether it be in society or politics. Women fought alongside men, claiming the ouster of the tyrant. But even as the sun set on the Mubarak regime and the dawn of the future unfolded, many women found themselves still living in the shadow of men and are being forced to remain in a state of subjugation under the yoke of repression. The Egypt of today is far from the Egypt that the quintessential feminist and the intellectually liberated women of Egypt dreamed and aspired to see.

The ascendance of conservative Islamist parties and religious extremists has also raised flags of alarm for women’s rights. Polls suggest that the mainstream Muslim Brotherhood is all set to win nearly half of the total seats in the Egyptian Parliament, while the more extreme Salafis are on track to win more than 20 percent.

Female protesters and demonstrators have been subject to sexual assault in Egypt, these crimes being perpetrated largely by the soldiers under military court protection. The rate of occurrences has increased particularly since October up until now. But they aren’t the ones to back down. Women have marched to show their disapproval for the treatment meted out to the “blue bra girl”. But even then, unfortunately as the situation turned out to show, these women were able to take to the streets with male support- men were guardians for these protesting women.