UfM in Cairo: the situation of human rights and women’s rights cannot be swept under the carpet

Egypt, Press Release, Shrinking Space for Civil Society

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Union for Mediterranean Ministerial Conference in Cairo: the dire situation of human rights and women’s rights in Egypt cannot be swept under the carpet

Brussels, 24 November 2017

EuroMed Rights is appalled that Egypt has been chosen as the host country for the fourth edition of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Conference on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society on 27 November, given the many human rights violations committed by Egyptian authorities.

In recent months, numerous arbitrary travel bans, asset freeze orders and arrest warrants have been levelled against human rights defenders and activists. The shrinking space for civil society and feminist NGOs particularly affects independent civil society and women human rights defenders who are also discredited through smear campaigns.

Sexual violence against women in the public space continues to remain a severe problem in the country, indicating shortcomings in State strategies and legislation to combat violence against women. In October 2017, Cairo was ranked as the most dangerous megacity for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey. It is all the more astounding that President Al-Sisi declared 2017 as the “Year of Egyptian Women, while national strategies to combat gender discrimination still lack proper implementation. EuroMed Rights stresses the crucial importance of adopting a unified law that criminalises all forms of violence against women in both the public and private spheres.

If the UfM wants to promote women’s rights in the region, it needs to support independent civil society that works on the ground, financially but also politically. We therefore urge the UfM to condemn publicly the onslaught against civil society in Egypt.

Check our campaign page Human Rights Behind Bars and “In Their Own Words” report on testimonies of Egyptian women.