Survey: Egypt the Worst Country in the Arab World For Women's Rights


Credit: Al Jazeera English/wikimedia

According to a survey of gender experts published by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Egypt is the worst country in the Arab world when it comes to women's rights. Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to travel abroad without permission, drive, or open a bank account, came in two places ahead of Egypt.

The survey cites high levels of harassment, genital mutilation, and trafficking as some of the factors contributing to Egypt's place on the list.

From the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Sexual harassment, high rates of female genital cutting and a surge in violence and Islamist feeling after the Arab Spring uprisings have made Egypt the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, a poll of gender experts showed on Tuesday.

Discriminatory laws and a spike in trafficking also contributed to Egypt's place at the bottom of a ranking of 22 Arab states, the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey found.

According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation article, an April United Nations report found that 99.3 percent of women and girls are the subject of sexual harassment in Egypt. The article also cites the claim, made by UNICEF, that 91 percent of Egyptian women and girls are subjected to genital mutilation.

That the experts polled believe that Egypt is a worse Arab country to be a woman in than Syria, where a brutal civil war is being waged, is shocking. While Egypt has yet to descend into full blown civil war, recent events such as last summer's coup and the military-backed government's crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have not contributed to stability or the safety of Egyptian women and girls. More from the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

Syria's civil war has had a devastating impact on women at home and in refugee camps across borders, where they are vulnerable to trafficking, forced and child marriage and sexual violence, experts said.

Rights groups say forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have targeted women with rape and torture, while hardline Islamists have stripped them of rights in rebel-held territory.

"The Syrian woman is a weapon of war, subjected to abductions and rape by the regime and other groups," a Syrian women's rights campaigner said.

Further analysis shows that three of the five Arab Spring countries (Yemen, Syria, Egypt) are now in the top five worst countries in the Arab world for women's rights. Some may have hoped for the Arab Spring, which began almost three years ago, to usher in a new and better environment for Arab women. Unfortunately, this has yet to be realized.