Thousands of women have taken to the streets of Cairo in protest against oppressive military rule after an Egyptian woman was dragged by her hair, stripped from the waist up then kicked and beaten by soldiers.
Footage of the brutal incident went global and sparked the protests in Cairo on Tuesday, largely dominated by women outraged by the attack which is known internationally as the “bra beating”. Many of the women held signs and placards displaying an image of the beating, seen now as the symbolic image of their protest.
The Egyptian military dictatorship has come under fire for its tough stance on protesters as peaceful marches have been violently crushed by soldiers. Egyptian ballots resumed in a bid to elect the nation’s first parliament after Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign from presidency in February. While Mubarak faced trial for the murder of peaceful protesters during the February revolution, the military rule was established.
US secretary of state Hilary Clinton addressed the complicated political situation in Egypt, stating that the attacks on women were “deeply troubling”.
“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people,” she said. “Recent events in Egypt have been particularly shocking. Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago.
“Beating women is not cultural, it's criminal and it needs to be addressed and treated as such.”
The Egyptian military council said it had “deep regret to the great women of Egypt”, adding: “Respect and total appreciation for the women of Egypt and their right to protest, effectively and positively participate in the political life on the road to the democratic transition.”