Egyptian Women Want Democracy Not "Ballotocracy"

Egyptian protestors on July 3, 2013.

Reporting from Egypt: Hoda Elsadda, Global Fund for Women board member and Vice President of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, emailed us to say that international media is missing the point. Demanding the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t the end of democracy in Egypt, rather it is democracy in action:

"[The international media’s] insistence on repeating the Muslim Brotherhood mantra that the ouster of the first democratically elected president is the end of democracy is a gross abuse of the essential meaning of democracy and a reflection of the trivialization of democratic processes by reducing them to electoral politics only.

If this is the situation of democracy in the U.S. then you are well advised to take a step back and learn from Egypt. Egyptians refuse the definition of democracy as elections only (one brilliant Egyptian coined the term 'ballotocracy' to describe this abuse of the concept).  

Mohamed Morsi has impeached himself by violating the contract made between him and the people who elected him. And just as a reminder, Hitler was also a democratically elected president whose election cost millions of lives and a world war. Well, we Egyptians want to get rid of Morsi and his clan right here and now and save the world and ourselves more bloodshed and agony.

A final word to the American administration: please, please, stop supporting dictators."

Documenting Sexual Violence and Gang Rape

As Egypt rejects “ballotocracy” in Tahrir Square, getting to this point was fraught with violence. Women have documented at least 101 cases of sexual violence in six days, according to Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Nazra for Feminist Studies.

Unfortunately, sexual violence and rape during times of conflict is not news for Global Fund for Women and our grantee partners. Fortunately, with social media, women’s organizations are documenting sexual violence in real time. Nazra for Feminist Studies has been instrumental in promoting anti-violence hotlines like Operation Anti Sexual Harassment and other support services for women being raped in the streets.

A Movement Demanding Democracy

During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the impact of 20+ years of vital core support from Global Fund for Women played out in a big way. It helped build strong networks of women’s rights activists in the Middle East and North Africa, enabling women like Hoda and Mozn Hassan to mobilize quickly and lead during turbulent times. Today, these are the networks demanding democracy in their country today and standing against rape and violence as an intimidation tactic.

 

Firsthand Account of Violence in Istanbul

Turkish protesters wave national flags with portraits of Turkey's founder Kemal Ataturk as they take part in an anti-government rally on Sunday, June 9, 2013.

Police unleashed tear gas and water cannons on a crowd of almost 5,000 people in Taksim Square Tuesday night, according to Deniz Nihan Aktan of Istanbul Feminist Collective and Global Fund for Women grantee partner, Filmmor.

Speaking to Global Fund for Women from her house near Taksim Square, Deniz described the scene as “horrible,” with police “attacking to kill the protestors.”

The demonstrations began over a plan to tear out the last green space in the center of the city, Gezi Park in Taksim Square, and to replace it with a mall. They quickly progressed into a movement critical of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his administration, well known for restricting the freedom of expression in civil society.

Deniz and her feminist colleagues organized in the park to take a public stance for women’s human rights. The group voiced their opposition to the government’s attempts to ban abortion, political violence against the LGBT community and the rising rates of violence against women.

Filmmor's protest area before the police broke up the demonstration: a group of women holding hands in front of a pavilionThe same area after the violence, showing wreckage of the pavilion, garbage, flags strewn aboutFilmmor's Taksim Square protest, before and after the police broke it up

“We put up a tent in the park to claim our voice amongst the crowd, and we conveyed our demands in a legal way,” said Deniz.

Deniz’s voice cracked over the phone as she recounted her experience. It was 3:00 a.m. in Istanbul and she had witnessed many of her friends wounded by police that are supposed to protect citizens.

What should have been a peaceful protest, a solidarity movement among environmentalists, left wing activists, regular citizens, women’s and LGBT rights advocates, was met with escalating police brutality.

“He [Erdogan] is more concerned with holding onto his power than he is for the rights of his people,” said Deniz. “What they [the government] are doing is illogical and illegal.”

Read more about the protests in Turkey

Global Fund advisor and grantee partner, Nevin Öztop of Kaos GL, reflects on the movement against Erdoğan’s racist, sexist and homophobic remarks and policies. Nevin writes:

How could the idea of a single park being demolished get a nation so angry? How could resistance unite all the streets of a country? How could people become so unafraid of getting beaten up and tear gassed day and night? And more importantly, how could this nation still have so much fun and laugh at everything about the brutality and rapid unrest?

"This gas feels fantastic, my friend!", "You banned alcohol, the nation sobered up!", "Welcome to the 1st national gas festival!", "Tear gas works wonders on your complexion!", “Hey Starbucks, this movement prefers the coffee of the independent shop owner on the corner!” are only a few of the thousands of declarations on the walls of over 40 cities now. In only a few days, graffitis and sprayed messages became a part of our daily lives. The smashed police “riot control” vehicles vandalized by football fan clubs are on sale all over the internet. Emptied tear gas bullets are used as the new vase homes of flowers. Read the full story here »

 

An Inspiring Night

View photos and videos from our 25th anniversary galas in San Francisco and New York, where we recognized extraordinary women leading the way for equality and justice worldwide.

San Francisco Gala








New York Gala









CNN’s Christiane Amanpour emceed the sold out event and the Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered the keynote speech. Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood Federation of America presented the inaugural Charlotte Bunch Human Rights Defender awards to three extraordinary women: Mónica Roa from Colombia, Mozn Hassan from Egypt and Staša Zajovic from Serbia. Jennifer Buffett and Jacquelyn Zehner were honored with Global Philanthropy Awards.

 

Your Signature Delivered to the UN

ban

Global Fund for Women is excited to share that we delivered your signatures to the office of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Thousands of people like you signed our petition, demanding world leaders make ending sexual violence a top priority. Secretary-General Ban and his colleagues heard your demands. This month, during the Commission on the Status of Women, the Secretary-General said:

"A new movement involving millions of people is taking shape before our eyes: saying no to silence, no to stigma, no to sexual violence in conflict, and YES to equality and empowerment. I am with them 100 percent.”

Ban Ki-Moon wasn't the only one listening. Under pressure from people in India and around the world, the Indian government approved a tougher sex crime law.

We are at a global crossroads, and now is the time to support local women's organizations so they can continue to advocate for new laws and work with their governments to implement them.

 

Global Fund for Women Condemns Violence in Delhi

shakti

Indian woman, 2009. Photo by Brad Hall.

Global fund for Women joins millions of people in India and the world in the outcry against the gang rape and consequent death of the college student in Delhi, India.

Unfortunately, this incident is but the end of a spectrum of violence that Indian women face every day. On Wednesday a teenage gang rape victim from Punjab committed suicide after police there refused to even file a complaint. Adding further insult, police in the latter case suggested the young woman either marry one of her rapists or accept a financial settlement.

Each and every day, Global Fund grantees in India, like Bangalore based Vimochana are battling the rising tide of crimes committed against women – from “accidental deaths” of young women killed for more dowry, to women who venture out of the home to sexual harassment and rape. In Bangalore city, touted as India’s Silicon Valley, Vimochana notes “there were 97 registered rape cases in 2011 in Bangalore city which means 7 women victims each month.”

Despite ostensible gains for women’s rights in India, more women in positions of leadership in government, more women business leaders and more women than ever going out to work in India’s booming tech and call center industries, violence against women is increasing.

The issue at hand is not one of just ensuring the safety of women on India’s streets. There is blatant disregard for women’s rights at the very highest levels of governance in the country. All major political parties have fielded candidates for state elections that have included candidates who have declared on disclosure forms that they have been charged with rape. Six elected state legislators have charges of rape against them. Reports of rape by the police of women and girls in their custody across the country and by armed forces in regions of India like the northeast and Kashmir are commonplace. In 2011, rape rose nearly 10% over the previous year, with more than 24,000 reported cases, and with more than half of the victims aged between 18 and 30. Even its most benign form, the social attitudes that prevail have families insisting daughters go back to violent situations in their in-laws’ homes, and police and judges urging women reporting rape to “settle out of court” or marry the perpetrators.

Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, strongly called on world leaders to act and stop this senseless violence on women, “The rape of women is trivialized all over the world. Can this death and the uncountable daily deaths and suffering continue to count for nothing?” We say no.

Learn More About Our Position

"New Delhi rape brings global outrage" Global Fund's Shalini Nataraj writes about the rape in New Delhi in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Listen to Shalini Nataraj talk about rape and sexual harassment in India on National Public Radio's KQED Forum.

 
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