Rise in sexual assaults in Cairo during protests

Tahrir Square, Cairo

According to Human Rights Watch, almost 100 women have been sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in just four days.

The charity described the attacks as “rampant” and said they highlight the “failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis”. Some say the attacks are staged by thugs who are abusing the lack of security and are confident of escaping prosecution.

Others claim they are organised to scare women into not joining anti-government protests.

Some of the women assaulted were reportedly beaten with metal chains, chairs and sticks, while others were attacked with knives.

The assaults came as protests escalated in the square, culminating with the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup .

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch , said: “These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development.”

Human Rights Watch cited figures from a hotline for victims of sexual assault and Nazra for Feminist Studies , a women’s rights group.

The watchdog called on Egyptian officials and political leaders to “condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence” in the square.

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