A Surge in Femicide Cases in Egypt Raises Alarm Egyptian women’s rights activist to TML: “Recently, any woman’s refusal to comply could result in her murder.” By Debbie Mohnblatt/The Media Line Three cases of femicide occurred in Egypt in a single week. Each case stemmed from failed marriages or romantic relationships, in which men killed […]
The Media Line: A Surge in Femicide Cases in Egypt Raises Alarm
A Surge in Femicide Cases in Egypt Raises Alarm
Egyptian women’s rights activist to TML: “Recently, any woman’s refusal to comply could result in her murder.”
By Debbie Mohnblatt/The Media Line
Three cases of femicide occurred in Egypt in a single week. Each case stemmed from failed marriages or romantic relationships, in which men killed women after being romantically rejected by them. Egyptian women feel vulnerable to these threats and believe that the government should take stronger measures to prevent them.
Nourhan Hussein Mahran, a 31-year-old employee at Cairo University, was shot and killed on Thursday by a colleague whom she had rejected for marriage after years of harassment, according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. The man, identified as Ahmed Hussein al-Desouki, subsequently died by suicide using the same weapon. Reportedly, al-Desouki had been arrested five years earlier for setting Mahran’s car on fire.
A day before this incident, Shaimaa Abdel Karim, 32, was killed by a former fiancé with whom she had ended her relationship 12 years prior. Reportedly, he had been assaulting her for over a decade before fatally shooting her last Wednesday.
On the same day, 33-year-old Sumayya was killed as she left work in Omraniya, when her ex-husband stabbed her to death upon learning she was newly engaged. Two years had passed since their divorce was finalized.
“Recently, any woman’s refusal to comply with a man’s requests could result in her murder,” Aya Moneer, an Egyptian feminist and founder of the Superwomen Initiative, told The Media Line, referring to the Mahran case.
The Observatory of Crimes of Violence Against Women in Egypt found in its most recent report that 813 cases against women and girls were reported in 2021, compared to 415 in 2020.
Egyptian scholar and women’s rights activist Sara Kira, founder and director of the European North African Center for Research, told The Media Line that systemic failures in Egypt thwart the effective prevention of such cases. “The problem is rooted in the lack of correct and serious combative mechanisms to deter this criminal behavior that has been on the rise.”
Kira said that while the government condemns such crimes and the judicial system issues death sentences, “More specific legislative measures are needed.”
She pointed out that the process for women to report a stalker or threats often stalls at the police station.
“In my opinion,” she added, “many women still hesitate to report threats because it doesn’t effectively stop the perpetrator.” This, Kira believes, will not change unless there is legislation to fix the problem.
Moneer concurred with Kira, noting that when women report threats, authorities often do not take them seriously.
She argued that the government treats these cases as isolated incidents instead of recognizing them as part of an ongoing trend. “There are no systems and protocols in place to react properly to incidents of femicide,” Moneer said.
Kira states that this trend of femicide in Egypt began about 30 years ago.
Before that, it was culturally unacceptable in Egyptian tradition to kill a woman for rejecting a marriage proposal, she noted.
“This kind of criminal behavior is new to Egyptian society, one that is known for its kindness to women in general. Egyptians especially, and all Arabs, are a proud culture that was run by women during different periods of history, as in the case of Cleopatra, Hatshepsut, and queen “Shagaret el Dor,” Kira pointed out.
She attributed the rise in crimes against women to a misogynistic culture that emerged with the influx of extreme Islamist ideology in the 1990s. “Women had been portrayed as ‘devils’ by rogue religious scholars or sheikhs.”
Moneer observed that current misogynistic rhetoric contributes to a culture of femicide among radicalized men, who also perpetrate other crimes like rape, harassment, and cyberbullying.
“There is a culture of glorification [of violence against women] among male youth circles due to this type of thinking,” she said.
As an example, Moneer cited the case of Mohamed Adel, who killed Naira Ashraf, a 21-year-old fellow student at Mansoura University, in broad daylight last June.
In Ashraf’s case, Moneer noted, the public sympathized more with her killer, Adel, than with her. Many people condemned Adel’s death sentence, claiming that Ashraf had promised to marry him in the past and exhibited “questionable” behavior, seemingly justifying her killing.