With the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women happening today, we compiled a list of places, organisations, and initiatives that combat the issue right here at home.
Today, the Secretary General of the United Nations urges the world to UNiTE and stand against violence towards women. On the 25th of every month, activists across the world partake in Orange Day, a day to raise awareness and strive for the prevention of violence against women and girls. This month, UNiTE launched their new movement, Orange The World, beginning on the 25th of November - also known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. For 16 days, until the 10th of December, activists across the world are urged to engage with their communities to "orange the world" by launching events to spread the word against violence towards women.
Violence against women is a widespread problem. According to Amnesty International, 99 per cent of women in Egypt interviewed by the UN in 2013 have reported sexual harassment. Further, 17 percent of women experienced sexual harassment by security forces, 47 percent of divorced or separated women reported domestic abuse, and 91 percent of women ages 14 - 49 were subjected to FMG (female genital mutilation). According to Amnesty, the government hasn't taken any real steps to combat the issue, and although new laws were legislated following the revolution in 2011, they appear to be only 'token' laws failing to produce any real results on the ground level. Some NGOs have taken matters into their own hands, providing victims of violence with support and rehabilitation.
CairoScene compiled a list of NGOs and government offices that help combat this issue right here at home.
Ministry of Interior
As of 2014, the Ministry of Interior has established an office in every police station for combating violence against women. For incidents inside Cairo, you can reach them at these numbers: 01126977333, 01126977222, or 01126977444. If you're outside the capital, contact the same numbers and they will put you through to your nearest office. We checked to see if these numbers were really working and, to our surprise, they are all working and, not only that, but they picked up within seconds of ringing.
Egyptian Society for Women's Health
An NGO that is concerned with women's health that tackles several issues, one of which is street girls who suffer from permanent facial scarring due to an ongoing custom of tagging girls who have been raped by scarring their face to mark them as non-virgins. We contacted Norran Hussien, founder of the society, to ask her about what they are aiming to provide for these girls. She told us that they are in co-operation with El Nadeem Centre and an organisation called Banaty that accept street girls suffering from abuse and violence and offer them support through rehabilitation, education, and by offering them work. Norran told us, "These organisations offer a very essential role to these girls, but, they are not able to give the girls suffering from such scars the necessary operations to remove them. When we are contacted by these organisations telling us they have a scarred girl, we give them appointments and we take them to Ladies Health Alliance Centre. They usually need four sessions, with two months in between. All operations are completely free of charge."
El Nadeem Centre For Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
El Nadeem Centre specialises in working with victims of torture, which was their first activity upon starting in Egypt. Other than helping female victims of torture, El Nadeem is also involved in addressing other forms of violence against women. Links to their social media pages and hotline are available through the link above.
The National Council For Women
NCW was created in 2000 in response to a presidential decree, with its mission being to support the social, economic, and political empowerment of women, and to support their legal rights. They have a committee that handles sexual harassment and violence, called the Standing Committee on International Relations. More information is available via the link above.
Plan's mission statement is to increase protection of vulnerable individuals from all forms of violence and harmful practices. Plan finds that Egypt continues to reflect a high prevalence of harmful practices against women and girls, including early marriage, Female Genital Cutting (FGC), and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
HarassMap is a volunteer-based initiative founded in late 2010 that is working to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment in Egypt. It also serves as an online map that shows user-reported incidents of sexual harassment as generated through their website. They aim to create an environment where sexual harassment is not tolerated. Recently, they have been partnering up with private companies willing to adopt the initiative, including Uber, to train their drivers to take positive action against sexual harassment in the street, and to provide a safe means of transportation for women.
Karama is an organisation fighting to end violence against women in the Middle East and Africa, with its name representing dignity and equality. Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Cairo, they have key partners in many countries in the MENA region that co-operate with them on many topics including empowering women political, socially, and economically, as well as raising awareness against violence towards women. They emphasise that they work from the ground up and that is what distinguishes them from the rest.
It is truly a horrifying experience for any female to have to endure gender based violence. If you know of any more initiatives in Egypt that work to combat violence against women, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.