Woman Stripped Naked, Beaten by Mob in Tahrir Square

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 07:45 p.m. DST, 11 June 2014

"حسنا" Photo by: Andrea Volpini

CAIRO, Egypt -- The inauguration of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday, 8 June, was a cause for celebration and excitement throughout much of Egypt. But hours after the commencement of al-Sisi's presidency, the festivities turned violent. Several women were sexually assaulted and battered in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.

Since Sunday, nine men have been arrested in connection to the string of assaults. The mob targeted at least five women, surrounding and sexually assaulting them. The torture proved extremely serious; four of the women were transported to the hospital after the vicious attacks.

The violent crowd of men surrounded a range of women, including one pregnant Egyptian, and a mother who had been enjoying the Tahrir Square scene with her daughter before the mob encircled and violated her.

The criminals moved through the square with relative impunity, stripping one woman completely naked and lacerating her. The attack went on far too long before police were able to separate her from the mob. According to reports, the security officers threatened to discharge their weapons, but no shots were fired.

Today, 11 June, women responded to the series of attacks that followed Sunday's inauguration, gathering in Tahrir Square as a statement of solidarity and resilience. Sexual assault has become commonplace in Tahrir Square, especially during the massive protests in 2011 and 2013 that saw President Mubarak and President Morsi removed from office. Women who demonstrated during this pivotal political time were often silenced through sexual assault, which at the time was not a punishable crime in Egypt.

A study published by the United Nations finds that 9 out of 10 Egyptian women have been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or raped.

Thursday of last week, 5 June, new legislation was implemented by the provisional government to protect women from sexual assault, and hold perpetrators responsible for the first time in Egyptian history. Advocates of the measure hope that it will curtail the growing problem.

Tahrir Square has become very much a symbol of Egyptian liberty and self-determination, as men and women took to Tahrir Square during instrumental demonstrations in 2011 and 2013, to speak out against governments that did not represent their best interest.

It is my hope that the continuing protests, aimed at promoting gender equality and safeguards for Egypt's women, will be as revolutionary as the demonstrations for political reform in 2011 and 2013.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Death Penalty for Three Rapists Sets Precedent in India

New Delhi India Gang Rape Court Trial Graffiti Protest, Photo by AFP

New Delhi India Gang Rape Court Trial Graffiti Protest, Photo by AFP

MUMBAI, India - On Friday, three men convicted of two different 2013 rape cases were sentenced to death by hanging. The heavy sentence and relatively speedy conviction are thanks to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013.

Mohammed Kasim Sheikh, Salim Ansari, and Vijay Jadhav were the first tried under the terms of the adjusted laws and this will be the first time India has initiated the death sentence for a non-fatal crime.

Among other things, the Act targets repeat offenders and gang rapists. There is also an effort for courts to be more victim-friendly. For instance, it is now illegal to bring up the question of a victim's character during trial. Before the law, reports of rape were largely ignored in India and rape victims were mistreated.

Increased awareness of rape occurred after a fatal case in Delhi in December 2012. A 23-year-old female boarded a bus with her male companion. All six men on the bus beat her companion and raped and beat her repeatedly before dumping them both on the side of the road. She was hospitalized and died from her injuries 13 days later. Public outrage lead to a greater effort to deter rapists and lift the taboo of being a rape victim. The Criminal Law Amendment Act was enacted three months after the Delhi victim's death.

Sheikh, Ansari and Jadhav were originally only charged with the August 2013 rape of a 22-year-old photo journalist who was on assignment in an abandoned mill. After the case became public, an 18-year-old victim came forward and said that these same men had raped her in the same mill only a month earlier. It was this confession that upped their sentence from life in prison to death.

India Enacts Tougher New Anti-Rape Laws

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 18:25 p.m. DST, 29 March 2013

India's Aam Aadmi Party Protest Rape EpidemicINDIA - In response to the 2012 Delhi rape gang case, the government in India set up a panel called the Justice Verma Committee headed by a retired judge to recommend legal reform and other ways to reduce sexual violence, reports BBC.

A bill containing harsher punishments for violence against women passed in early March, and Karuna Nundy, a leading Indian Supreme Court lawyer, explained to BBC how the laws work.

Nundy says that the new laws consist of a combination of thinking about gender and existing patriarchal attitudes, and those ingrained in the colonial Indian Penal Code of 1860.

The bill defined several actions as crimes: stalking, intimidating, murder, acid violence, disrobing, and voyeurism. Additionally, the bill clarifies that in rape; the absence of a physical struggle does not indicate that the actions were consensual.

One of the major reasons why crimes against women aren’t reported is because police would refuse to register the complaints, says Nundy. The bill would give compulsory jail time to those who fail to register complaints.

Healthcare providers must provide survivors of sexual violence or acid attacks free and immediate medical care.

There are increased jail terms and the potentiality for the death penalty in a repeat offense or rape that causes coma. If evidence demonstrates that the death penalty is not a deterrent for committing crimes as Nundy claims, then what is the alternative punishment?

Nundy is further concerned with the lack of expansion of the criminal justice system. Speedy trials are supposed to be the best in prosecuting crimes against women, Nundy says, and it is unclear how fast these trials will be. Offenders may attempt to drag on the trial process for a long time, which would cause the victim much hardship. Additionally, Nundy says “there’s also a concern that if sentences are thought of as too harsh by judges, the already high acquittal rate in cases of sexual violence will rise further.”

Under this bill, consensual intercourse between teenagers aged 16-18 is considered rape. The boy involved can be sentenced to up to three-years in prison, and labeled as a rapist.

The new laws fail to protect men and transgender from rape. The cultural attitudes in India can help explain this failure to protect transgender.

According to the Taipei Times and the Global Post, transgender face heavy discrimination. The Taipei Times reports that homosexuality is accepted, however, straying from cultural perceptions of femininity or masculinity leads to prosecution. The transgender communities in India, known as hjaris, have been prevented from obtaining decent education and jobs and housing, reports the Global Post.

Marital rape is still legal. According to the India RealTime, in Indian culture, the husband has the right to intercourse whenever he pleases. Activists have called for laws that would allow women to press charges against their husbands, but this has yet to be addressed.

Armed forces in “disturbed areas” are still effectively immune from the prosecution of rape and sexual assault. The Hindustan Times reports that in many instances, an offender from the armed forces will try to take their trial to civilian courts because the trial can take years. In contrast, in military courts, prosecution can come swiftly and the punishment can be much more severe.

Though the laws fail to address several important areas, the laws represent an important step in the change in laws and attitudes in India.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki