Politically Motivated Sexual Assault and the Law in Violent Transitions: A Case Study from Egypt
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This case study is about the use of sexual violence against women and men in order to deter the opposition from engaging in protests and demonstrations in a context of a country in transition, Egypt. The paper advances a number of arguments. First, politically motivated sexual violence has a number of distinguishing features from the socially motivated sexual harassment that is generally prevalent in society. While they both contribute to discouraging women from assuming an active public role, they have different implications vis-a-vis who to hold accountable. Second, men have also been the targets of sexual assault, though their narratives have rarely been documented or recognised, and the law does not offer possibilities for redress. Third, due to a number of historical and contextual factors associated with Egypt – which has been in the throes of revolutionary activism – there has been a strong call for the perpetrators to be tried and the government to be held accountable for complicity. This has, in turn, reactivated calls for the revision of the criminal code to be more effective as a tool for addressing sexual violence.