The Relationship between Feminism and State Policies for the Elimination of Violence against Women: The National Strategy for the Elimination of Violence against Women as an Example
The issue of Violence against Women in the public sphere has been a major source of concern over the past few years, especially in the four years following the January 25th Revolution in 2011. Discussion of what Women have to endure in the public sphere became commonplace on many platforms, including the media and social networking sites. It has also become a leading item on the agendas of many feminist organizations and various groups which seek to confront the exacerbating and increasingly frequent phenomenon.
In this context, many feminist groups expressed the need for ensuring that perpetrators of mob-sexual assaults and gang rapes are held accountable and adequately punished, addressing the deeper elements of the issue with a comprehensive long-term scheme with a view to its elimination, and the adoption of national policies to combat the exacerbating phenomenon; as an expression of the State’s responsibility towards its female citizens.
The Egyptian Government has adopted certain measures such as creating a Unit on Monitoring Crimes of Violence against Women in May 2013, establishing departments for combating Violence against Women at security directorates, followed by the launch of the National Strategy for the Elimination of Violence against Women (NSVAW), drafted by the National Council for Women and published on May 7, 2015. NSVAW is a five-year strategy (2015-2020) which aims to coordinate the efforts of several Ministries, National Councils and Special State Authorities to raise awareness and provide support for survivors of such crimes.
It should be noted at the outset that, although there are some gaps in NSVAW, it generally addresses many factors and details related to the societal context of Violence against Women in both the private and public spheres. NSVAW also presents a theoretical perspective and some practical procedures. This shows the Egyptian Government's vision for implementation, which is focused on a protocol for cooperation and coordination among 12 different Ministries and government authorities during the period 2015-2020. However, the gaps and observations addressed in this paper relate to the general orientation of the strategies and legislative measures adopted by the State, particularly with regard to the fact that they fail to take the feminist perspective into consideration, as a result of the failure to involve feminist groups capable of providing a feminist discourse which addresses gender issues and strategies.
It is noteworthy that the term "feminist discourse" does not imply a rigid discourse offering one homogenized view. On the contrary, this discourse includes many schools and orientations, involving many mechanisms and approaches for dealing with various social, economic and political issues. However, our analysis of the NSVAW shows a failure to incorporate any such feminist approaches.
This paper aims to ask the question about how different NSVAW, as a strategy for dealing with an issue that is inherently concerned with Women, i.e. Violence against Women both in the private and public spheres, would be if it were to incorporate a gender-perspective and a feminist discourse in terms of its objective, tools, and implementation policies.
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