Egypt: New Constitution Fails to Protect Women from Violence
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:45 PM

Women in Egypt continue to face widespread discrimination, violence and harassment in both public and private life, despite Egypt's recent adoption of a new constitution that guarantees gender equality and criminalizes violence against women. Women's rights activists in Egypt argue that the government is not taking the progressive equaity measures in the constitution seriously. They say that Egyptian women have experienced a significant increase in public violence and harassment, and have not secured greater represenation in the Egyptian Parliament or the judiciary. Violence is a "very intimidating weapon" used to deter women from participating in public life, according to Dalia Abdel-Hameed with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, particularly when perpetrators enjoy impunity for their actions and victims are blamed for causing their abuse.  
Salma el-Naqqash of the Nazra Institute for Feminist Studies has offered several recommendations to mainstream the gender equality guarantees in the constitution across Egyptian society. She suggests that Egypt create a  “Commission on Discrimination” with independent judicial powers to hold the state accountable for any failures to implement and enforce women's constitutional rights. She also believes government should require an increase in the number of women involved in public life at every level, from parliament to local councils, and that the Interior Ministry should have a unit that specializes in combatting violence against women. 
Compiled from: Dean, Laura, Egypt Women: Rights on Paper, Not Yet on Ground, Associated Press (April 8, 2014)