“Let the world know”: Order to shut critical clinic for survivors of violence in Egypt

Security officials came to the center after the end of the working day to seal it off. Were it not for the providential presence of Taher Aboul Nasr, the center’s lawyer, who was able to negotiate a postponement of the order until we meet with officials from the Health Ministry on Sunday, the center would already be closed down by now.”  — Magda Adly, Director of the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence and Torture, Egypt

Another chapter was added yesterday to the story of the Egyptian government’s clamp down on human rights and feminist spaces in Egypt. On February 17, the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence and Torture was handed an administrative order of closure by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and the Azbakeya district, where the center is located. The order stated that the center had violated the terms of its license but did not provide any details. El Nadeem’s lawyer was able to negotiate with authorities to hold off on closing the center until after Nadeem’s team will get the chance to meet with officials from the Health Ministry on Sunday.

“This is part of the systematic crack down on NGOs and human rights groups that have been documenting and rehabilitating victims and survivors of human rights abuses in Egypt,” says Mozn Hassan, Global Fund for Women’s Board Member and the Founder and Executive Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies in Egypt.

In a statement issued today, February 18th, the Nadeem team says, “El Nadeem Center is not a place that can be sealed off. El Nadeem is a team committed to combating violence, torture, and injustice and struggling for the provision of medical and health care to those who are deprived of their freedom in places of detention. El Nadeem will continue supporting the oppressed and fight against torture and violence. In that sense, El Nadeem will always remain open.”

Established in 1993, El Nadeem has filled a unique and much-needed space in treating and documenting torture and violence throughout the country. In addition to its Torture Rehabilitation Program, which offers critical services to Egyptians and non-Egyptians who have survived torture, the Women’s Support Program supports survivors of gender-based violence and rape by providing listening and counseling. Its 24-hour hotline provides immediate counseling to those in need of support—one of the only hotlines of this sort in Egypt.

If you were to visit El Nadeem, the first thing you would see on its walls are works of art made by children as part of their treatment.

El Nadeem’s holistic approach to the rehabilitation of survivors of torture and sexual violence—from prevention to protection—has had a unique impact throughout Egypt. “Without El Nadeem team, the rehabilitation of survivors of violence in the past five years would not have been as effective and developed,” adds Mozn Hassan. “They have been our mentors and have educated the other groups who are today working on the question of sexual violence.”

Today, Global Fund for Women stands in solidarity with our sisters at El Nadeem, whose steadfastness, dedication, and humility is an inspiration to all of us. Today, we urge our friends and global community to express their solidarity with El Nadeem by adding their voices to raise awareness of this unacceptable crackdown on human rights organizations in Egypt.

“We have a choice to make: are we going to get loud in decrying by all means what is happening? Or are we going to wait until the sliver of hope is gone and we are left timidly proclaiming our solidarity in uncertain terms? Get busy and get loud, let the world know that in Egypt, the most valiant, the bravest, the most crucial of groups, such as El Nadeem and many others, are being targeted,” said Zahra Vieneuve, Global Fund for Women’s Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Unless they arrest us all, we will continue in our work as long as we remain out of prison,” said El Nadeem’s director Aida Seif el-Dawla, in a statement made to Reuters.

We encourage our community around the world to be bold advocates for El Nadeem on social media, online, and among your networks. Raise your voices and make sure this news does not go unnoticed. Reach out to Egyptian embassies and consulates and urge them to revoke the order immediately.

Together, our voice is stronger.