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Not Democracy

July 21, 2013

Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly” (2 Sam. 13: 19).

For those who may not be familiar with the Bible story, Tamar, a daughter of King David, was raped by her brother, Amnon. She was denied justice.

The Middle East has not made a great deal of progress since then. Over 180 rapes have taken place in Tahrir Square while the world watches. The possibility of justice for these victims remains remote.

As many as 30 to 100 men will isolate a woman, then violate her with their hands, literally tearing the clothing off her back. Women may be beaten with chains, chairs, and other objects while being raped. The genitals of some women have been cut.

Public violence against women has been a problem in Egypt before. Foreign journalists, including Lara Logan and Sonia Dridi, have been assaulted and raped. Even more disturbing perhaps, a UN survey on gender equality reported that 99% of the Egyptian women responding had been subjected to some form of sexual violence in their lives.

The message being sent from Tahrir Square is that women have no place outside the home.

A large part of the problem is that sexual abuse is not a crime in Egypt. Sexual violence may be committed without fear of reprisal. Police treat rape victims as if they were the culpable party.

Tahrir Square is no Tiananmen Square.  Whatever else the protests ongoing in Tahrir Square may be, they are certainly not democracy, and should not be mistaken for some fledgling version of it.  We should not delude ourselves.


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