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Feb. 13, 2013 Associated Press
CAIRO — Washington's envoy on human rights cautioned Tuesday against the failure of Egypt's government to identify the perpetrators behind a growing number of gruesome attacks against female protesters, as nearly 1,000 women gathered in Cairo to denounce the recent sexual assaults.
Beating drums and blowing whistles, the women defied advice by some lawmakers that suggested their presence in Tahrir Square, the focal point of protests, was the reason for the mob attacks.
"A woman in the square is a revolution, but your words Afifi are shameful," read one banner in response to Adel Afifi, a member of the Islamist-dominated interim parliament, who said this week that women are subjecting themselves to attacks by mixing with men in unsafe places.
While sexual harassment of women has long been a problem in Egypt, dozens of violent attacks have been reported specifically in and around Tahrir Square since the fall of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Hundreds of unidentified men have taken part in attacks on women, ripping their clothes off, touching them and, in one case, raping a 19-year-old with a blade.