As thousands of citizens flood Tahir Square to fight for democracy after a struggle for fair elections, Egypt is in an extraordinary and difficult transition. But what of its women, asks the online Bikyamasr, which also reports that Tahir Square, a symbol of fledging democracy, has also become a hotspot for sexual harrassment. Nabila Ramdani of The Guardian believes women fared better under Mubarak, while Aline Sara reports in NOW Lebanon that women’s rights have to go on the backburner—for now.
But for how long? Despite these trials, women in Egypt aren’t waiting. Whether marching against sexual harrassment or protesting for being told to cover up, they are giving voice to their own demands and rightful place in the emerging social and political discourse. HER KIND pays tribute to 5 Egyptian women writers whom, despite persecution, intimidations and even threats on their lives, give voice to the fight for women’s writers as a necessity, not an option.
Mona Eltahawy has been at the forefront of covering the revolution: on November 24, 2011, she Tweeted (@monaeltahawy) to her followers “beaten arrested in interior ministry,” was assaulted by her captors and suffered fractures in her left hand and right arms. In the controversial “Why Do They Hate Us?”, Eltahawy frames the question around the famed writer Alifa Rifaat (see below) and does not shy away from revealing the war on women in Egypt.
Dr. Nawal El-Sadaawi is an author, doctor, activist for social and gender equality—and legend in her own right. Last year she spoke to The Guardian and The Nation on the eve of the revolution in Egypt, and why she believes the country has a long way to go. And as she proclaimed to The Independent, she’s in it for the long haul too.
Miral al-Tahawy writes in Classical Arab, and widely considered the first novelist to capture the plight of Beoduin women whose traditional culture clashes with modern desires for independence. She recently won the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal for literature.
Alifa Rifaat explored the patriarchal hierarchy in her stories about rural life in Egypt through the themes of sex, marriage, widowhood, death and female genital mutilation, which have long since been considered taboo. Distant View of a Minaret is considered one of her finest and most provocative works. While she passed away in 1996, her legacy for women’s rights lives on.