Rape. Molestation. Sexual Assault. There was no doubt in her mind that she was going to die. Groped, surrendered, naked, and screaming, Lara Logan was surrounded by a group of men assaulting her in every way possible. On 11 February 2011, Logan was in Cairo covering the resignation of Hosni Mubarak for CBS News, when she was surrounded by a group of men and raped. As she recounts the incident, hairs on our arms become erect in fear with every detail of that horrific incident. She had been reporting the celebrations for an hour without a hint of what was going to happen until the camera battery went off.
They were pulling her in every direction and it seemed like that they were trying to tear off chunks of her body, all the while taking photographs of her. At one point, the group dragged her to a fence where some women protesters were camping. One woman wearing a chador put her arms around Logan and other men started throwing bottles at the attackers. Soon, a group of soldiers appeared who beat back the crowd with batons. Logan was immediately flown back to the US, where she remained hospitalized for four days. It remains unclear who the attackers were and is unlikely that anyone will be ever prosecuted.
This horrific incident amid the celebrations at Tahrir Square ain’t the only one, in fact, several such cases were reported where solo women were dragged, molested, and raped by a group of men. It is true that in Egypt and other Arab nations, sexual assault of women in a similar way is on the rise commonly known as Taharrush Gamea. It is a disgusting, vile, and decrepit game of assaulting women in public without any fear of prosecution. The attack on Logan was one of the first known instances of ‘Taharrush’ to be ever reported in Western media.
What is Taharrush Gamea?
Taharrush, the sickening and terrifying Arab game spreading across Europe and Asia, means collective harassment of women in public by a group of men which often results in looting, molestation, and even gang rape. It is usually carried out by a large group of men who surrounds any lone woman and sexually assault her either by groping or raping.
Little is known about the emergence of Taharrush as a concept of molesting women in public. The only rule of Taharrush is the three-circle rule, the first circle takes action meaning that they are the ones to actually molest the woman. The second circle acts as spectators who take videos and photographs of the women. While the third circle is responsible for diverting the attention of the onlookers and prohibiting them from stopping the game. This attack usually goes unpunished due to a large number of attackers and amid the chaos, no authority can identify any one of those involved.
Assailants would encircle a woman regularly pretending to be there to help her, adding up to the chaos. They constantly keep saying “Do not be afraid; I’m protecting you,” or “you are like my sister, do not be afraid”, spreading confusion for the woman on whom to trust as well as people trying to help. Women reported being stripped, beaten, bitten, penetrated either by fingers or other objects as we all as being raped. The barbaric and immoral attack on women is becoming common day by day.
When we hear about such crimes happening around the world in the name of religion through inherited rules of patriarchy, tribalism, and morality, the only thing we do is sigh and move forward. Every day numerous cases are reported where women are subjected to violence in the name of honor, religious interpretation, cultural norms, tradition, and even morality. Sadly, for some, revolution looks like being educated, becoming a reporter or going to school, or refusing customs. But in essence, if we trace roots of this years-long oppression we come to twisted practices such as honor killing and dowry deaths.
Around the world, women are long-standing victims of patriarchal injustice. Reason? These attacks are the result of diverse intentions including pleasure, dominating women to the perceived notion of sexual deprivation. These attacks became so frequent especially in Egypt, Pakistan and Germany that several individual NGOs and rescue teams like OpAntiSH were formed to provide safety for women. Yet, despite the growing concern, to date, there has been no law regulated by any government to stop this sociopathic activity. In fact, many ruling parties instead, blamed women for protesting or wearing provocative clothes.
But the question remains, when will this stop? The centuries-old oppression in our society against women is so deeply prejudiced in not just Islam but every other culture, religion, and tribe that fragments of that discrimination still echo today. And why women? For achieving basic human rights, gender equality is very crucial but also hard-earned. No matter how progressive our brothers, fathers, husbands or friends seems to be, there still will be a discriminatory thought at the back of their minds that they don’t even realize to exist. These traits can be shown well where our fathers stop us from doing tasks that require energy and forces our brothers to do it. Though this thought is laid on the foundation of concern, yet it also displays the disparity in his mind that girls cannot do hard labor.
Discriminatory laws against women persist in every country of the globe and new discriminatory laws are enacted every day institutionalizing women as second-class individuals. This needs to be stopped, and at this point, no action is enough to undo the injustice. The only thing we can do to end this discrimination is by doing everything we can. Not just women but also men should equally participate in ending this prejudice and forming a better world for our future generations. So that they can only hear tales of ‘once upon a time’ oppression.