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Moving from an online space to a global offline campaign to fight sexual assault...

This was my Facebook entry on February 1, 2013: “ :'( This happened!!! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZyo74ESr2s&feature=player_embedded#! ) A video of the mob sexual assault of a woman in Tahrir Square on the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, January 25. 2013. This is beyond vile. This video was made by the group "Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault". From the voice-over in the video translated from Arabic: "But, we will not be silent, we will not be broken, we will not shy away. There are mob sexual assaults happening in Tahrir square and it's surroundings. Come and stand against the rapists because we do not plan to hide in our homes. This square is OUR square, this revolution is OUR revolution and we will fight this battle to the last breath!"

That's the day my anger toward this despicable injustice cranked up many notches. Watching this unfold in Ottawa, while I was so far away from Cairo was just too damn depressing. I felt helpless. This was a clear, organized attack on Egyptian women protesters, to try to break their spirits and scare them away from Tahrir. Then, more stories of sexual assault emerged one after the other. Like the case of Yasmine El Baramawy. She bravely spoke out about her sexual assault on an Egyptian TV program, during which she held up the torn pants she wore the day she was attacked.

“They gathered around me and started ripping my clothes off with knives,” El Baramawy said. She was dragged several hundred meters while being touched and groped until local residents saved her from the crowd.

To add insult to injury, the human rights committee of Egypt's Shura council was actually publicly blaming women for being sexually assaulted.

A few days later, I saw a call launched on Facebook by "The Uprising of Women in the Arab World" (https://www.facebook.com/intifadat.almar2a) for a “Global Protest Against Sexual Terrorism Practised on Egyptian Female Protesters” :
https://www.facebook.com/events/150788335077948/?fref=ts . The idea was that on Tuesday February 12, 2013, at 6:00 pm, citizens of all nationalities all around the world would gather in front of their local Egyptian Embassy to show solidarity with the victims and send a clear message to the Egyptian government that people will not watch in silence while the epidemic of sexual terrorism against Egyptian protesters spreads.

Next thing I knew, I was getting a protest permit, creating a Facebook event for Ottawa, asking people to make signs (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151296898037919&set=oa.1615832... ) and bring megaphones, co-ordinating with the global organizers through a FB group called “Admins of events of #GlobalProtestFeb12”, and contacting media to get the event covered (http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Ottawa/ID/2334536918/ )

The positive solidarity energy the #GlobalProtestFeb12 created was palpable. During the protest in Ottawa, a woman came up to me and said: “I heard you talking about this on the radio while driving home from work. I couldn't believe this was happening and I didn't know about it. I had to come to the protest. Thank you for organizing this.”

This gave me hope and, although far from Egypt, I felt I was still helping out, somehow. From Ottawa, to Nouakchott, to Beirut, to Oslo...women united on and off-line to stand against this injustice because in the end -- this wasn't just an assault on Egyptian women, it was an assault on all women.

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Comments

Sharontina's picture

No words

No words to express. But i stand for this with you to bring an end to such brutalities.

God bless

Merlin Sharontina

Nelly Bassily's picture

Thank you

Hi Sharontina,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm convinced that women's solidarity is actually really powerful and can bring about many really important changes...so, thank you for your stand :)

-Nelly

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Pushpa Achanta's picture

Your expression...

...is good, dear Nelly. Please continue writing and fighting for women, girls and other survivors of any assault.

Warmth and solidarity,
Pushpa

To tell the trought i didnt think that doing so will count as support for egyption women or show solidarity specaily at that time and still we face crack in human rights in sudan systamticly and harsh by the government authirtys.
But thatnk you for sharing this and help me see things diffrently
Ola

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace
www.suwepmovement.org

Dear Ola,
Shukran for your message. While I understand that the human rights abuses will not stop tomorrow, I think it is really important to put pressure on governments, show discontent, and raise our voices in the face of injustice. Little by little, all these actions, that may seem small, build up to become a large movement! That's what I'm seeing with the online solidarity network that was built through the #GlobalProtestFeb12. It was also the first solidarity or protest movement to go from a solely online component to an offline, worldwide movement. That is significant. :)
I'd be really, really interested to learn more about your work with Sudanese Women Empowerment for Peace. :-)

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

ola.mahadi's picture

yes this very true

We need to have cases where things devloped and changed happned this when we advoxate for online campaign that we need examples where individuals voice made diffrents
Thank you for sharing your dream and hope for better future
In sisterhood
Ola

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace
www.suwepmovement.org

Nelly- Thank you for posting this journal entry, and sharing about this crisis in our world. You not only saw and shared this horror using social media, but took action! Yes, this is what we should do with the information that is now available and accessible- take action to create positive change.

I agree that technology allows us to more easily take actions, thereby decreasing feelings of helplessness.
I would be interested to hear what visions or plans you have to use this medium in conjunction with your passion and skill.

Peace and Hope-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Nelly Bassily's picture

Thank you!

Michelle,
Thanks for your comment. My vision might be too idealistic but I sincerely believe that ending the rape culture we live in is an absolute must if we want to see gender-based violence come to an end. In Canada, I'm getting involved in the campaign draw-the-line.ca In terms of Egypt (the motherland :), I'm trying to get as much information out about what young women are doing to end the epidemic of sexual harassment and try to make it socially unacceptable. I blogged about an amazing initiative called HarassMap: http://nellybassily.tumblr.com/post/47526005106/on-international-womens-...

I know this fight is a huge one but it's one that I have hope to see change in because there are so many women of solutions out there. It's just that their voices have to be elevated and heard.

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Nelly- no vision is too

Nelly- no vision is too unrealistic. What you have begun to do in response to your convictions and visions is remarkable. You will find many sisters here who can stand with you and provide many kinds of assistance. I believe in you, and I have hope that things will change for the better, because women like you are out there! Thank you for your response!

Peace and Hope-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

We are all with you Nelly to stand by what is right. You have really demonstrated boldness in raising your voice against the oppressor. Go!! dear sister and continue to raise your voice!!

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com

Nelly Bassily's picture

Your support is important

Many thanks Busayo!

Nelly Bassily
"We must become the change we want to see in the world"
(Mahatma Gandhi)

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