Today the image of a young woman on the ground in Tahrir Square surrounded by Egyptian soldiers is all over the world’s press. She is pulled, kicked and abused by soldiers for protesting. The Guardian reports that she wants to remain anonymous because of the shame at the way she was treated. Shocking her clothes are torn from her slim body, her flesh and underwear exposed. And more humiliating is surrounding her ‘a kind of black halo..the abaya, the robe she was wearing that has been ripped off and tell us that she was wearing a hijab.’
Women have been routinely groped by the military, trained conscripts supplemented ‘with an innovation: militias of strong, trained, thugs’. Men are routinely beaten but the treatment of women insidious tinged with a nasty undertone. As if to say this is what happens if you step out of line; if you don’t behave like a women adhering to the conservative rules of Egyptian society. Apparently ‘women develop deterrent techniques: layers of light clothing, no buttons, drawstring pants double-knotted – and carried on protesting.’
The courage, the bravery and dogged determination to keep protesting knowing what they face deserves huge respect. Their actions make them visible in quite a different way; a new visibility coupled with frightening vulnerability. How bad do things have to have got to push people to protest knowing they face a beating day after day? Is martyrdom a suitable sacrifice for the greater good? What would you put your life on the line for?