Women in Cairo came out on Tuesday to protest an ongoing epidemic of violence against women.
Their mouths taped shut, with cuts and bruises painted on their faces, the demonstration took place in front of the press syndicate headquarters in a bid to draw attention to a global phenomenon that is particularly widespread in Arab countries.
“Women suffer all forms of violence – their husbands beat them for responding poorly or behaving badly,” one demonstrator told euronews.
“There are several types of violence that we face in Egypt,” another women at the protest explained, “but the worst is to force women to continue having children until the birth of a male child. This kind of violence, called compulsory reproduction, leads to the death of a large number of women.”
According to the United Nations, 35% of women and girls around the world experience some form of physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Those numbers are increasing across the Middle East and North Africa with the rise in armed conflict since the Arab Spring.
UN figures show that 99% of Egyptian women were subject to violence or sexual harassment last year, while some 20,000 women were raped.
Despite these shocking figures, euronews correspondent Mohammed Shaikhibrahim says few women attended the protest. “But it still carries a powerful message as an attempt to highlight a problem that the Arab community tries to cover up because of prevailing social norms.”