When Egyptian women, activists and passersby were assaulted and manhandled by Muslim Brotherhood supporters last Tuesday, the country was faced with a new game: no more rules.
Elderly women were pushed, shoved and a man was seen in a picture widely shared on social networks, with his hands pressing on leading activist and doctor Mona Mina's mouth to silence her from chanting against their leader, Mohammed Mursi.
The list of attacks, physical and emotional, on women who dare to revolt in Egypt is turning into a list of shame in a country where Egyptians girls were the first to be educated in the region.
The country has produced revolutionary women who have pushed the envelope, and are doing so again, even at a time when those envelopes need to made and pushed anew.
Now, under the reign of the Brotherhood, the country is racing as fast as it can in the wrong direction, backwards, on women’s equality and safety. Women now have to relive fights they thought they had won; the law ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), banning underage marriage and even the attempts to regulate children labor are all facing a very serious test and could be reversed if the draft constitution is approved.
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) is right in asserting that the draft constitution is “planned aggression” against women. The strong female revolutionaries have fought, been attacked and beaten to achieve a country free from sexual assault and harassment. Under the Brotherhood, as we have seen in the past week, all those efforts are threatened once again.
“In the light of intimidating the Egyptian women and seeking to attack their rights by some dominant mainstream in the constituent assembly of the constitution, the Egyptian society was shocked due to the announcement, on behalf of some members of the committee, on the cancellation of Article 68 from what is known as the draft of constitution,” ECWR said in their statement in mid-November.
Article 68 had guaranteed the rights and equality of women and men in all sectors of society, including political, cultural, economic and social life “and all other fields without prejudice to the provisions of Islamic Shariah.
“The State provides the services of motherhood and childhood for free. The state ensures the women’s health care, social and economic rights and the right of inheritance and reconcile with her duties towards the family and her work in the society. The state provides protection and special attention of household, divorced, and widowed women and others of women who most in need,” read Article 68.
But now, if the Egyptian people vote to pass the controversial and archaic constitution, women in Egypt will face yet another uphill battle and one that will be entrenched in the country. This should not have happened.
In today’s modern Egypt, once again we are faced with a turning point. Will the country allow women to again be put behind a veil of inequality by the Islamists who, wrongly, believe they are the majority? As protests against the constitution and Mursi’s policies continue, it is time to get out on the streets and join together for the dignity and future of Egypt.
Allowing the conservatives, the Brotherhood and the Islamic Puritans, or Salafis, to take control of our destiny, our bodies and our future, Egypt will be turning the clock back on all hope for a better future that was supposed to have arrived in this country.
Now, more than ever, Egyptian women from all walks of life need to come together and demand their voices be heard. It is now the hour of getting dressed to join the movement or pack your passport and get ready.
Manar Ammar is the Women’s Editor at Bikyamasr.com and a Cairo-based journalist. Twitter: @manar_ammar