Women Are Standing Up Against Gender-Based Violence in The Region

It’s more troubling than ever

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From Morocco to Egypt, violence against women is on the rise in the region, and across the globe. Just yesterday, Tunisia’s Minister of Women, Child and Elderly Affairs announced that 14,000 reports of violence have been made since the beginning of the year, with the majority constituting abuse against women. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

In Algeria, gender-based violence is equally troubling. In 2020, 41 femicides have been recorded in the North African country. The year prior saw 75 women succumb to violence. Things took a turn for the worst in October, when the body of a young 19-year-old woman was found near Algiers. The tragic event prompted a group of 21 Algerian actresses to launch an awareness campaign in her honour, the region’s first major initiative to fight against the recent rise of femicides.

“We, Algerian actresses, are united today to say stop to violence against women and feminicides” the campaign statement read. “We call for awareness and general mobilization to end this violence!” 

The campaign coincides with the UN’s latest initiative ’16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence,’ which was launched upon an alarming increase of violence against women has been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Recent data has shown that calls to domestic violence hotlines have increased all over the world since the beginning of the pandemic. In some countries, resources to combat gender-based violence have been diverted due to COVID-19. 

Accompanying the crisis has been a spike in domestic violence reporting, at exactly the time that services, including rule of law, health and shelters, are being diverted to address the pandemic,” read the UN Secretary-General’s report. 

To mark their initiative, the UN gave voice to various activists and survivors. Among them is Cairo-based activist Soraya Bahgat, who has extensively worked to protect women protestors in Egypt, who are often subject to mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square. 

“In 2011, after the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square, women and girls were being subjected to brutal mob sexual assaults,” she says. “We’re talking about sometimes fifty men sexually assaulting one woman,” she continues. 

 

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Egypt recently witnessed its very own #MeToo movement. It came after an Instagram page, entitled Assault Police, gained traction after calling out a man by the name of Ahmed Bassam Zaki, who was ultimately prosecuted for numerous cases of sexual assault. 

The case led to change in Egyptian law, providing increased protections for the identities of sexual assault victims.

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