Media Type:

TV Shows


Title

Episode of Hina al-Asima (Here is the Capital), dedicated to discussing mass sexual assault of women protesters

Subject

TV talk show

Description

This episode of the popular talk show 'Hina al-Asima' was dedicated to discussing mass sexual harassment of women protesters in and around Tahrir Square. The host, Lamis Elhadidy, interviews Jeanette Abdel-Alim, a field coordinator for the 'Shuft Taharrush' anti-sexual harassment initiative, film maker Aida Al-Kashef, media spokesperson for the Shuft Taharrush initiative, Neveen Ebeid, a human rights activist at the New Woman Foundation, and Mustafa Kandil, a member of a rescue group.
Mass sexual assaults against female protesters began to be widely reported after January 2013 and combatting sexual violence became a key issue for women activists. Whilst sexual harassment was not new to Egypt, nonetheless, what was significant was the willingness of women to speak publicly about their experiences.
Elhadidy was an outspoken critic of the Muslim Brotherhood government and supported the military coup of 2013. However, despite being a supporter of the Sisi regime, her TV show was taken off air in 2018, highlighting the regime's insistence to closely control the media.

Creator

Lamis Elhadidy

Publisher

CBC Egypt, published via YouTube.com

Date Published

04/02/2013

Rights

Standard YouTube License.  This video represents licensed content on YouTube, meaning that the content has been claimed by a YouTube content partner.

Language

Arabic

Date Created

04/02/2013

Citation

Lamis Elhadidy, “Episode of Hina al-Asima (Here is the Capital), dedicated to discussing mass sexual assault of women protesters,” Politics, Popular Culture and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, accessed September 28, 2020, https://egyptrevolution2011.ac.uk/items/show/212.

Output Formats


Media

    Warning! This item contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Translation

Voice-over: “I am a girl, like many others. I resemble you, in your beautiful stubbornness and patience. I resemble you in our challenge. And I have a big dream for you, my country. A dream that is enough to last 1,000 years, from one generation to the next.
Song (One of the Girls by Amal Maher):
“O my country, who am I?
I am one of the girls.
I don’t even need to say I love you for I love you naturally
I grew up and found a song in my heart,
and no matter what happens,
in my eyes, you are beautiful
I am one of the girls
And I am used to challenges
And I had a dream
And, you can see, my country
I am now a manager,
And a minister,
A judge that rules,
And the biggest of experts
And my mother was honoured
On Mother’s Day
Chorus:
O my country, who am I?
I am one of the girls.
I don’t even need to say I love you for I love you naturally
x 3
And now the fear has gone,
It no longer has a place
I closed the door of submission
Long ago
And I will never go back
I will carry on no matter what
I will carry the most beautiful banners
With my hands
x 2
(fades…)

Lamis El-Hadidi (LH): “That was Amal Maher and her new song ‘One of the Girls’. I want to thank…we made this lovely clip…I want to thank our director Mohamed Atef, Mostafa El-Mallah and Amr [inaudible] for their efforts. They put together that clip in 4 or 5 hours, so I want to thank them very much.
[Quoting song] “I will never go back, and I will not be afraid’”. This is the Egyptian woman. Threatening won’t work. You really need to kill her to be able to stop her from speaking. Any attempts of violence, at terror…I mean you already beat her in the house, and you beat her outside of the house. But she’ll still be there, and she will still resist and will take her rights. No one just gave us our rights and said ‘here, you’re now a minister, or a television presenter’. No one did this. We all took our rights through a lot of sacrifice, long struggles and suffering. Each one of us worked 20, 25 years until we reached where we are. And some women go through a lot more than that. I salute every girl that went down to the square [Tahrir]. Every girl that was subjected to pain or who fainted. And what’s worse, is that they are subjected to sexual harassment. And not just harassment, but rape as well. Today’s discussion is on violence against women, that has been in our lives for a long time, but is now systematic and political. And this is what we’ll hear from the colleagues that are with me here tonight.
Allow me to introduce my guests: Nevin Ebeid, a member of the New Woman Foundation. Welcome to you.
Janet Abd El-Aleim, the coordinator for the I Saw Harassment initiative. Welcome to you, Janet.
The young director, Aida El-Kashef
And Mostafa Kandil, the only man on our panel tonight! You are of course welcome. Mostafa Kandil is a member of the Rescue Team and the Anti-Harassment group.
Let me start with Aida…Aida Radwan El-Kashef, her father is a great director. He taught all of us in our minds, hearts with his high art. Aida, you were subjected to an ‘absurd’ experience. Tell me about it”.
Aida El-Kashef (AK): We were in the square [Tahrir] in November, I think it was the 30th of November…there were calls for rallies because of what was happening with the constitution. What happened was that, before, in the days of the Cabinet Sit-in, before the elections and the [Muslim] Brotherhood were in power, there began a series of mass sexual assaults against female protesters and revolutionaries in Tahrir Square. However, nobody wanted to talk about it, political parties didn’t want to say [anything], and people were afraid of besmirching the Square’s reputation…”
LH: “And worried about frightening girls from going down [to the street to protest].”
AK: “And yes they were worried about frightening girls, of course, but this was the biggest mistake. Because just as we blame the army or the police when they shoot bullets at us, we should also blame whoever it may be or is responsible for the presence of sexual assaulters, be it the authorities or the society. And we must work on…like we have field hospitals, and there are lawyers working on detainees, there must also be people securing the Square, helping the girls and naming and shaming what happens. Unfortunately, this did not happen and as a result, the number of assaults increased and reached, on the Friday before last, 19 cases that were documented by our group alone, six of whom required hospital treatment.”
LH: “And you, what happened?”
AK: “What happened was that I was in the Square and there was a mass assault against a girl taking place in front of me. There were no fewer than 250-300 men, most of whom were armed with ‘cold weapons’ [knives etc.], and the girl was in the middle of them. I was part of the Anti-Harassment force and was with the Rescue Team that’s made up of boys and girls. I decided to go in and attempt to help the girl because, according to statements, the worst thing is that the girls are in the middle alone and do not trust anyone that’s around them….”
LH: “They [the assaulters] encircle them...”
AK: “Exactly. Because those who say they are protecting are very often assaulters. So, I went in, and was able to evade the men and reached the girl. She was in a very bad state and she was injured. She also had two brothers with her, two big guys who were in tears because they couldn’t get her out. We were in the middle of Tahrir Square, by the Arab Contractors wall, where the hotel is being built. I got through to the girl, she was in hysterics. I began to calm her and tell her that she needed to calm down and concentrate so we could get out. There was a small cordon of men, some of whom were part of the assault while others were trying to make way [for us]. Anyway, after about 15 minutes where all kinds of weapons were used on us, we were electrocuted, we had rocks and sand thrown at us, and there were knives placed all over our bodies. I was able to calm her and tell the guys with her that we needed move so that we could get out alive. Because there is often stampeding going on. We managed to find a way out, and the girl and her brothers got out and I was pulled in instead of her. I was completely alone at this point. As I said, there were 200, 300 men. You get pulled and pushed from everyone there from all sides. Some people were trying to undress me, and others were trying to tear the clothes with their knives. There was also someone saying he was protecting me, but his hands were actually down my trousers. And I was in this situation for about 15, 20 minutes, trying to…”
LH: “And what do you do [in this moment]? What is your reaction like?”
AK: “There’s nothing really you can do. I mean my body is being held all over, all I could do really is that I was holding my trousers so I could pull them up. I was being pulled from everywhere really. You get pulled left and right and everyone is trying to take you to their side. And we ended up moving from this spot, in the Square, to the back of Omar Makram [the mosque on the other side of Tahrir Square] …”
LH: “And you’re just moving because of the momentum…”
AK: “Yes exactly. My clothes were of course… I mean thank God I was able to get out with my clothes intact, but my underwear was completely ripped….”
LH: “And could you feel the knives reaching to your skin?”
AK: “I could feel them, but I was not hurt by them. But I don’t know if the person with the weapon is with me or against me because as I said, there was a guy whose hands were in my trousers and I kept saying to everyone that he is an assaulter, and he was telling the guys with him that he’s protecting me and trying to get me out, to the extent that there was a boy, who was among those who was really trying to help…I started to scream hysterically that this guy is an assaulter, not protecting me…and this boy [the helper] says to me ‘put up with it because this is the only way we can get out’ … on the way, we fell over in an area with a lot of bricks and stones and stuff from the building site, there was a guy on the ground who took my shoes off so he could get my trousers off, and then…this whole time I can see some of my friends trying to reach me, and this was very painful because I grew up with some of them and I could see how broken they were. And they were being attacked as well. After a while, a friend called Hussein as well Janet managed to reach me. As soon as I saw Janet I said, “I’m going to collapse” and indeed I did. This whole time I was fighting the fainting off. It wasn’t just that were hands inside me, but I didn’t know if I was going to get out alive, because of the sheer number of people, and this was the most terrifying thing. And this is common for a lot of people, it’s just easier to accept death, because you’re constantly panicking if you fall over or faint what will happen. Anyway, Janet was able to push me up against a wall and protect me from the others and this is when I fainted for a few seconds and came to with her pulling me along. While she was pulling me, there were three or four men pulling me back. She and Hussein didn’t notice because they were trying to run forward while there were four or five people pulling me back and pulling on my trousers. The ambulance tried to come in but wasn’t able to the first time because there were people attacking the ambulance. When we got to the back of Omar Makram, Janet and some others picked me up and threw me into the ambulance and we got out and the nightmare was over.”
LH: “Janet, how did you save her?”
Janet Abd El-Aleim (JA): [voice breaking]
LH: “I mean I’m in shock and can’t really speak”
JA: “I was worried at the time because Aida is so petite and I was pushing up against the wall, and well, I’m just going to say it, I had a stun gun [Taser] with me and as soon as someone tried to reach Aida I electrocuted them, and this is what saved us. When they realised they couldn’t reach Aida, they began to strip at my clothes, one of them was trying to get the stun gun from my hands to use it against us. He would say ‘give it to me, I’ll protect you from them’. If it hadn’t been for that stun gun, Aida and I would not have gotten out of this situation.”
LH: “How did you see her?”
JA: “One of our colleagues came over and told me there was a girl getting raped by the Arab Contractors sign. I went running, on that day I was in a different rescue group, so I went ahead and got there while the people with me weren’t able to come because anyone wearing an ‘Anti-Harassment’ t-shirt was assaulted. Two of us, in order to reach us, crouched down and took off their t-shirts. If a boy was wearing these t-shirts they were stabbed or attacked in some way or even sexually assaulted as well. I have documented two cases of men being sexually assaulted exactly as it happens to us [women]…”
Mostafa Kandil (MK) [off-screen]: “I was”
LH: “You too, Mostafa? But you’re huge”
JA: “If he was wearing the Anti-Harassment t-shirt then he’ll be assaulted”
MK: “I wasn’t even wearing it…”
LH: “But how? I mean she [pointing to Aida] is petite.”
JA: “That was my worry with Aida that she’s so petite. I was screaming at her to toughen up because if we fall we’ll be eaten up. She had to stay standing. If she fell I don’t know what I would do”
LH: “But can you imagine that with her size she could?”
JA: “And I knew I was putting pressure on her and possibly suffocating her but I didn’t have any choice. And what was incredible is that those were assaulting us, were protecting one of the cameras that was filming us. There was a camera high up on a pavement belonging to a news organisation that was filming the incident, while Aida’s camera was stolen on that day.”
LH: “So the camera being protected was there to film the assaults…”
JA: “I mean what happened to us, after 40 minutes was uploaded to the Rassd network”
LH: “Rassd…”
LH: “[to Mostafa] how were you assaulted, I mean you’re the protector and you’re a big guy”
MK: “The thing is you can’t really imagine how it is. And we get a lot of comments of Facebook along the lines of “and why didn’t you catch the assaulters?” I mean the number is huge. 300, 400 men is not an exaggeration and there are cases with even more than that. There are arms everywhere, weapons everywhere. You have a circle of people around a girl, and then another circle trying to reach them, either to assault or protect them. And another circle around them. And no one knows what’s going on, so you have lots of people trying to get in and rescue the girl. And as Aida said, what’s even more dangerous than the assault is the suffocation. I have experienced a lot, but what I wanna talk about today is that I was once and for the first time I was next to a girl from the very beginning trying to get her out…”
LH: “You were in the footage we were showing earlier, right? Play it again [to the directors]”
MK: “Yes, the video with the circle. What’s worse is the suffocation. The girl is at the bottom where the man lighting the fire is, she was under the fence. At that point, her trousers had been taken off, and there’s a guy in green there (slow it down) who is about to take his trousers off…”
LH: “Pause it there, pause it there”
MK: “the guy waving a stick is a colleague of ours trying to push people away so we can get the girl away. Behind us was the KFC restaurant. The girl was completely naked at this point. There was a guy who took off his trousers to give them to her, while another guy gave her his jacket….”
LH: “Who’s this throwing flames at you?”
MK: “The guy you see just beneath the flames was the one trying to give his trousers to the girl”
LH: “The fire is to scare you or what?”
MK: “No, no. Actually, he was with us. He was one of the vendors who was using the flames to get people away. As you can see the amount of people and the girl was on the ground as well, so we were really in danger and were worried that she’d suffocate and die. So she’s on the ground and all these people are on top of her and to her back is the fence. Her head was getting pushed through the metal bars of the fence and then is assaulted. This fire cleared the way. We were able to lift the girl up, and take her towards KFC. I was stuck with the girl for more than 15 minutes […] we were trapped and completely exhausted. Only three of us were able to reach the rescue teams and we were completely exhausted and the girl was collapsing. During this, there were hands harassing both her and myself, trying to get their hands into my trousers. I don’t know if he’s sick or if he thought I was the girl. There was also someone trying to steal my mobile phone…”
LH: “I mean why not?”
MK: “Exactly. Another guy was stealing my wallet. Half our colleagues had stuff stolen off them. At this point, the girl was wearing a scarf and someone’s jacket, I thought I’d give her my jumper so it wouldn’t show that she’s a girl. She had a scarf wrapped round her head and had men’s trousers on. I had a hoodie on and somehow managed to get it off little by little. I put it on the girl. As we got out, I’m the one in white you can see on screen, we found KFC was closed, so they entered the building with the girl. And the building’s doorman closed the door. All those you can see in white are from the Anti-harassment group and I want to thank all of them…”
LH: “Me too…they’re heroes”
MK: “They’re putting their lives at risk. We had all kinds of weapons drawn at us, knives, Molotov cocktails, whips. This people are sacrificing their lives so they can save these girls, and they don’t have to. This isn’t their duty or jobs, they have jobs and studies, but they volunteer to protect girls from such assaults…”
JA: “The whole thing is that the police protects the authority while we protect the girls”
MK: “Exactly.”
LH: “Aida, are you alright?”
AK: “I’m fine, I’m well [laughs]”
LH: “We’re just going to take a break, but when we’re back we’ll hear more. These people are not thugs, Aida is not a thug. Mostafa is not a thug. Janet is not a thug, nor is Nevine. These are not thugs. I’m just going to take a phone-call before the break. This is from the beautiful girl that was in the middle of that circle and I will not say her name. Good evening”
Female voice on phone: “Good evening Mrs. Lamis and to all your guests…”
LH: “Let me just start by saluting you and say I respect and love you and I’m in pain for what happened to you.”
Caller: “We can never really describe what happened, there are no words in the dictionary to describe it. This was death, death was close to us. We could never imagine this. We could never imagine such a thing in our country. This is not Egypt, I’m sorry Mrs. Lamis, but this is not Egypt. We went to Tahrir Square, but that was not Tahrir Square. We were in Israel. Two steps from Tahrir Square and we were in Israel.”
LH: “What were you feeling when this was happening to you?”
Caller: “I was screaming. Everyone around you is saying they’re protecting you, but they’re all assaulters and rapists. They’re all trained people […] they’re hands are everywhere. A violation in every sense of the word.”
LH: “Do you feel that he’s doing this to scare you or…?”
Caller: “the main goal is that this happened to girls, I acknowledge that this also happened to boys, but the large majority was to girls. This was done so that girls would not go to Tahrir Square. What other explanation is there? As soon as we went to Tahrir Square we were under observation, there were suspicious-looking people in the Square, and I’m not trying to besmirch the Square’s reputation, the Square is the purest place on earth. I’m not besmirching the police’s name, but we have to expose what is going on because there’s a sickness in the Square.”
LH: “When did you feel that something was wrong?”
Caller: “You just get encircled and are moved along by the momentum, no one was holding me, but trapped me in and were moving me along away from my friends and the people I was with. My clothes were torn, my trousers were torn. Someone tried to give his trousers. I want to say hello to Mostafa who’s with you. Mostafa, good evening […] these are the noblest of men and women that you have with you tonight. The noblest girls and women are those that were assaulted in Tahrir, whose virginities were assaulted…the noblest of men is Mostafa, your family must be proud of you. May god protect you.”
LH: “How did Mostafa save you?”
Caller: “I don’t know he entered. He was an angel and not a human. Mostafa was the one who gave me his clothes, who was with me the entire time. Mostafa is one of the greatest young men in Egypt […]”
LH: “You were on your own […] did you have some girl friends of yours?”
Caller: “I was with a friend, her mother and brother and a female relative of hers. Can you imagine? I was taken out from out of all those. They were also all taken, but they managed to regroup.”
JA: “Good evening. Are you going to the Square again?”
Caller: “My dear I was in the Square just last Friday!”
JA: “That’s it, that’s exactly what I wanted to say”
LH: “Those are the Egyptian women!”
JA: “What was meant with this was to scare us away from going to the Square, we were partners in the revolution from day one to the last day. The last martyr of the revolution was a woman! Sabrine Aly in Alexandria. We are being punished for offering our lives. Men like Mostafa know they could take a bullet and every woman, like you and Aida knows they could be assaulted, but we still keep taking to the streets. I am very happy that you went”
LH: “Mostafa also wants to say something”
MK: “I just wanted to say that you’re the greatest woman, and I’m sorry if I was late…I don’t know what to say”
Caller: “you don’t have to say anything Mostafa. We are the ones who should be talking about you…”
LH: “We’re running out of time…”
Caller: “I just want to say something to the President. I want my voice to reach the elected President of the republic. The ‘President of all Egyptians’ and not the ‘President of the family’. Firstly, I was one of those you were responsible for and I will stand before you on Judgement Day and will demand my rights from you. You won’t be a president then and no power or Brotherhood will help you. Only your work, and people will help you. Your people have been violated and assaulted in your time. We have seen a lot, we’ve seen poverty and corruption, but we never saw such things before. Mr. President, look at the people. the rights of every girl who was assaulted in Tahrir Square is on your hands and we will stand before God and ask for retribution and we will never forgive you. You will see it in the closest to you. You will never be happy. Do you sleep, Mr. President?”
LH: “Oh they sleep very well! Let’s take a break because I can’t anymore. They sleep very well!”

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