Source: Al Jazeera
Cairo, Egypt – Nearly a year and a half after Lara Logan was sexually assaulted by a mob of men in Tahrir Square, women have increasingly been coming forward with disturbing personal testimonies of similar attacks.
Natasha Smith, a British journalism student who was in Cairo on a research internship, recently lit up the social media sphere with a detailed blog account of an attack she suffered in Tahrir.
The posting recounts how a horde of men encircled and quickly overpowered Smith, who was accompanied by two male friends, on the outskirts of the Square on June 24.
“Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way,” she wrote. “Although a few men tried to form a human shield around me, offering me rags to cover my bruised body, men were still able to touch me. There were just too many.”
After being hidden in a tent, Smith only escaped her attackers by donning a niqab and being smuggled out of Tahrir by a man who ordered her not to cry for fear it would alert her assailants to her identity.
In another account, an anonymous victim, who called herself “C”, was also subjected to a vicious gang assault in Tahrir on June 2 after being separated from her group of friends.
“Before I knew it, I was thrown up against a wall where a motorcycle was parked,” she recalled in her testimony to the Egyptian centre, Nazra for Feminist Studies, a feminist organisation that has been seeking to record as many of these incidents as possible. “I was standing on top of the bike while my friend and a few other men tried to make a half circle to protect me. But there were more men trying to hurt me than protect me and I was grabbed all over and my pants and shirt were ripped.”
After being dragged into the foyer of a nearby apartment building, “C” was continuously violated until she was finally rescued by a group of men that hid her with a family living in one of the flats. Much like Logan and Smith, the men attacking her not only forced their fingers into her body repeatedly, but also brutally beat her throughout the attack.
A surge in violence
The month of June ushered in a series of startlingly volatile sexual assault cases across Tahrir.
In addition to recorded individual attacks like those above, an attempted women’s rally scheduled to take place in the Square on June 8 ended in terror when the women participating in the demonstration were beaten and violently groped, despite having male companions form a human chain around them for protection.