Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Egypt

The International Women's Day celebrations did not all go smoothly:
Some women's rights organizers here were hoping to mark International Women's Day with a thousand-strong rally in the heart of downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Instead, less than a 100 showed up and those who did spent just over two hours being harassed and insulted in the very square they helped liberate.
Doing their best to ignore the taunts, several small groups of women clung to colorful signs with slogans in English and Arabic.
"I'd like to be able to walk down the streets, free of fear, free of judgment and that's it," said Rehaam Romero, a 23-year-old copy editor. She held a sign with the words "Equality, Education and Empowerment" and a hand-drawn Egyptian flag.
But her enthusiasm quickly faded after arriving in Tahrir Square, where she found hundreds of men crowding women holding signs and chanting for the women to leave.
"I've never been as afraid as I am now in all my years in Egypt," she said, watching men deride women standing nearby and yell: "The people want to bring women down!"
Even the most stalwart participants left after the military fired shots into the air to break up a fight at the edge of the square and almost caused a stampede.
Whether the hecklers were recruited or volunteers, this does not bode well when it comes to women's rights in Egypt.
Added later: I was initially very discouraged by this even though I knew something of the sort would soon happen. But after thinking about it for a while I'm no longer so discouraged. Because every battle must start somewhere and the next steps may well be easier than the first ones.
And added even later: Duh, Suzie already discussed this.