Assaulted In Tahrir

Gang rapes happened under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, in some cases instigated by his secret police. But since the revolution to overthrow him, activists say the attacks against female protesters and journalists are becoming more frequent and more vicious. A record number of women were attacked at protests on the two-year anniversary of the revolution. Correspondent Bridgette Auger looks into why they keep happening.


Another Woman Reporter Attacked in Cairo

Egypt has been in relentless flux since last year, but the contempt shown towards women remains a constant. Sonia Dridi, a correspondent for France 24 TV, was attacked near Cairo’s Tahrir Square last Friday night, reminiscent of the sexual assault CBS correspondent Lara Logan faced in February 2011 while covering the celebrations in Tahrir over Hosni Mubarak’s ousting.

Didri and her colleague Ashraf Khalil had spent the evening covering protests in the square and were shooting segments a block away when a crowd of about 30 men cornered them and began to assault them.

“The crowd surged in and then it went crazy… It was hard to tell who was helping and who was groping her,” said Khalil.

Khalil said he protected Dridi by wrapping her in a bear hug, and eventually the two escaped in a car.

Dridi tweeted the next day that she was “more frightened than hurt” and later tweeted “Thanks to @ashrafkhalil for protecting me in #Tahrir last night. Mob was pretty intense. Thanks to him I escaped from the unleashed hands.”

The AP reports that there’s been an increase in attacks against women since protesters have returned to the square in recent months. There have been incidents of sexual harassment and even stripping women of their clothes in public.

Tahrir Square has continued to be an epicenter of unrest since Egypt’s revolution, and though Mubarak is gone, competing groups are jockeying for influence. Too often now, women professionals have become a target of Egyptian male aggression, reminding us that democracy means far more than just the right to vote, but the protection of all human rights.


„Pride in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria can be a dangerous thing“

Neo-Nazis throwing Molotow cocktails at peaceful gay pride marchers in 2008

On 18 June, following the Sofia Pride march, five Pride volunteers were attacked by a group of unknown perpetrators. Three of them suffered minor injuries. The LGBT rights activists suspect that the attackers followed them as they were leaving the Pride.

“This was obviously a hate crime, but the police is not able address it as such. This is the biggest problem,” one of the activists, Kaloyan Stanev told Amnesty International.

As the Bulgarian Criminal Code does not recognize sexual orientation as one of the grounds motivating a crime, the five Pride volunteers are concerned that the hate motivation may not be adequately addressed.

Hate crimes represent a particular affront to human dignity and need to be promptly, independently, impartially and thoroughly investigated and those responsible must be brought to justice.

Amnesty International urges the authorities to publicly condemn the attack and to express their support to the LGBT rights activists.

“Do we have to wait for someone to get killed to realize that there is a problem? We got out easily, but the next time, there might be somebody who would not be so lucky,” one of the activists, Svetoslav Pashov told Amnesty International.

The assault took place in the centre of Sofia after the five Pride volunteers had walked for approximate 45 minutes and had left the secured, by the police, area of the Pride.

One of the activists called the police who arrived immediately at the location. The activists then went to the police to report the assault. They stated that they were attacked because they were LGBT rights activists and that the assault was a hate crime. They told Amnesty International that the police will investigate the crime. However, they said that they were not offered any form of victim support or to be escorted back to their homes.

“This is not an isolated incident. During the past four years, gangs in central areas of Sofia have been beating up people who “looked gay”. However, this has not led to any measures by the authorities to ensure the protection of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people in Bulgaria, and to prevent similar hate crimes,” said one of the attacked LGBT rights activists, Dimitar Dimitrov.

More than 1,000 participants attended the fourth Sofia Pride march on 18 June. The march was adequately protected by the police and organizers were satisfied with the police cooperation and safety provided for the celebration of the rights of LGBT individuals in Bulgaria.

The organizers of Sofia Pride urged the authorities to provide effective and adequate protection to LGBT individuals in Bulgaria as a matter of urgency.

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