In January 2011 women and men took to the streets in Egypt to demand for freedom, justice and equality. Women were fundamental in overthrowing the old regime. They organized and participated in the protests - despite harassment and sexual assault - they tended to the wounded and used social media to voice their demands. Despite their crucial role in bringing about change, women and girls continue to be discriminated by law and in society.
Egypt has taken some steps to improve women’s rights. The Constitution of 2014 stipulates equality between women and men and obligates the state to protect women from violence. This constitution states that the state must guarantee adequate representation of women in Parliament, without being clear on its implementation. A national strategy to combat violence against women was adopted in 2015. There has been a transition from the state denying the existence of sexual harassment, to admitting its scale and recognizing the need for intervention.
Despite some improvements, the situation for women remains deplorable. The family law is discriminative on issues such as divorce, inheritance and custody, the Penal Code does not address domestic violence and has a narrow definition of rape, amongst other legal flaws. Women are underrepresented in the political process.
In spite of negative developments, there are continuous initiatives of organizations demanding for women’s rights. There are some success stories of women who won court or legal cases on sexual violence and new movements of male participation in combatting sexual violence, inspiring more people to follow the same path.
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