Some claim that calling prostitution a scourge dehumanizes them. On the contrary. Since prostitution is the sexual exploitation & commodification of poor women & children, it is an affront to their humanity to consider it anything but a scourge. To claim it is the oldest profession or an ineradicable feature of social life is cynicism & ignorance. The oldest profession for women is farming & feminism has taken on as its mission no less than the eradication of all patriarchal exploitation & violence against women & children.

Driving my dogs to the dog park today, I had to stop for a dog crossing the highway. When she got safely across, my dogs spotted her & started barking which made her turn & run back into the road. A car driving the other direction struck her directly under the front wheel. I made a u-turn to check on her but she must have run off. The driver that hit her never even slowed down.

While the Sudanese military is using rape & murder to end the African Spring protests demanding democracy, we should remember that the Egyptian military, both under Mubarak & under Morsi, used rape, sexual assault, & murder against activists in Tahrir Square to destroy the Egyptian Arab Spring uprising.

This photo was taken in November 2011, months after Mubarak was forced to resign but while the military ruled directly in its own name. Mohamed Morsi, an elite member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in 2012 with the military using the same electoral apparatus it had used to get Mubarak repeatedly elected. It was at this time that many still considered the military as allies in the transformation to a democratic society. The ouster of Morsi in June 2013 & the resumption of direct military rule led to the present military dictatorship under General Sisi, including the massacre of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood activists. Morsi is still in jail & although he was a tool of the military & not a champion of democracy, they have no right to hold him any more than they do tens of thousands of democracy activists.

(Photo from Reuters)

The rape of Sudanese women protesters by paramilitary forces resonates with the sexual assaults & rape of Egyptian Arab Spring women activists in Tahir Square. Media reports often presented this sexual violence as endemic to Arab & Egyptian culture when Arab Spring activists, including feminists, considered the violence as orchestrated by police agents from the Morsi regime which fronted for military rule.

This is a 2013 post I wrote about the violence & how feminists & other activists formed defense squads to protect women protesters:

Public protest in Egypt has crescendoed over the past several months in response to the allocation of dictatorial powers by the Morsi regime, the exclusion of human & democratic rights in the new constitution, the continuing dominance of the Egyptian military, & continuing police brutality against protestors. Hundreds of thousands of people are defying martial law & reasserting the demands of the January 25, 2011 uprising that bounced the dictator Mubarak. As of Sunday, over 40 people had been killed & 500 injured in police assaults on the protestors. This is a political resurgence of the greatest consequence to those struggling against tyranny around the world.

One of the most reported stories coming from the massive resurgence is about the violent sexual assaults on women in Tahrir Square, Cairo. In a typical attack, a mob of men surround an isolated woman, collectively grope, manhandle, & strip the woman, endanger her, & in some instances rape her–regardless of whether her attire is secular or Islamic. Over the past months, activist men & women have formed groups & squads to intervene, rescue the victims & provide services to them in safe houses. One of the most prominent groups is Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (OpAntiSH), set up last November.

This is all very disturbing news which could lend credence to the Morsi regime claim that the protestors are thugs trying to bring down the new democracy. It could even make credible the Islamophobic claim that rampant sexual harassment is endemic to Arab & Egyptian culture. Some media report these assaults as spontaneous outbursts of mob violence akin to the everyday street harassment women face in Egypt. There is no question that sexual aggression & violence is a problem in Egypt. As we know from assault & rape rates from the US to India to Egypt, sexual violence & harassment is a massive social problem in every country.

OpAntiSH & other activist groups are cogent & unambiguous in their statements that the attacks on women do not appear to be hordes of spontaneously combusting misogynists but rather paid & armed assailants targeting women to deter them from participating in the protests–in other words, most likely police agents. From the beginning of the Egyptian uprising, women have played a central role & terrorizing them by making Tahrir Square dangerous not only weakens the power of the movement but discredits it before the world.

OpAntiSH activists are not simply engaging in conspiracy thinking. In monitoring the attacks they have observed a pattern–in terms of location, encirclement of isolated women, method of assault, & the use of weapons–that bear a remarkable resemblance to attacks by police agents under both the Mubarak & Morsi regimes. That would explain the complete inaction by the state despite appeals from the UN & groups like Human Rights Watch. It is certainly not irrelevant that along with this inaction, the new Egyptian constitution explicitly excludes rights for women.

But we don’t have to rely just on the judgement of OpAntiSH or other political & women’s rights activists in Egypt. For several days in the fall of 2011, the entire world witnessed aghast as the Egyptian military & police physically & sexually assaulted women protestors–stripping, beating, manhandling, & dragging them through the streets by their hair. There are numerous photos but the one here (from Nov 2011) is among the most outrageous & memorable.
Most of the media accounts cite the authority of OpAntiSH on the assaults but many neglect to include their judgement that the attacks on women are most likely organized by police agents.You can bet your bottom dollar this omission is in the service of Islamophobia in order to discredit & undermine support for the Egyptian uprising.

To such rubbish our response is fullest solidarity with our Egyptian sisters & with the Egyptian uprising against tyranny. End all US aid to the Morsi regime!

Whatever happened to the lawyer Talib Hussain who led agitation demanding justice for Asifa but then was accused of more than one rape, sexual assault, & of torturing his estranged wife? Hopefully, he’s being prosecuted & has lost his cachet.

The US Border Patrol which has not been able to interdict the smuggling of billions of dollars of illegal drugs every year is now confiscating medications from undocumented immigrants & refugees who it arrests crossing the border. Instead of going after methamphetamine, cocaine, & heroin, it’s cracking down on high blood pressure, diabetes, & thyroid medications.