Social Good Summit, New York – A thought-provoking discussion on violence against women and children took place this afternoon at the Social Good Summit. Bringing together Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, former child soldier and activist Ishmael Beah , journalist and co-founder of Man Up Jimmie Briggs, and Rebecca Chiao, the co-founder and Director, HarassMap, the dialogue focused on how to make the invisible visible.
As in Egypt, Muslim fundamentalists in Tunisia have tried to use 2011’s opening to impose their own repressive agenda. The challenge today is to effectively counter that fundamentalist agenda in non-violent and rights-respecting ways. Democratic forces need international support to achieve that.
As a young Egyptian woman who participated in the revolution and who has been involved with several women’s groups and initiatives that have proliferated during the past two years, I do not wish to talk about how great the participation of Egyptian women was during the revolution, how they were marginalized afterward, or how they faced violence and a setback in political rights and freedoms despite their numerous contributions. These are all issues that I am sure can be addressed by experts in a more holistic and professional way.
In November 2011, after I joined a protest on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo with a friend, Egyptian riot police beat me – breaking my left arm and right hand – and sexually assaulted me. I was also detained by the interior minister and military intelligence for 12 hours.
After I was released, it took all I had not to cry when I saw the look on the face of a very kind woman I'd never met before, except on Twitter, who came to pick me up and take me to the emergency room for medical attention. (She is now a cherished friend.)
In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.