Gender-based violence both reflects and reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices. Any one of these abuses leaves deep psychological scars, damages the health of women and girls in general, including their reproductive and sexual health, and in some instances, results in death.
Around the world, as many as one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way — most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member; one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy.
Gender-based violence can cross throughout a woman's life, from prenatal sex selection to widow’s discrimination. Some of the practices are: prenatal sex selection, battering during pregnancy, female infanticide, emotional and physical abuse, harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, differential access to food and medical care, child prostitution, forced prostitution, slavery, sexual abuse in the work place, sexual harassment in the street and in the work place, marital rape and rape, dowry abuse, physiological abuse, and finally the death and murder in the name of honour among others.
Violence against Women is a violation of Egypt’s cultural and religious values. Many efforts have been made in the past years to reinforce and secure women’s rights, the legal framework and to change community behaviours. Egyptian stakeholders have understood that the whole society suffers the consequences of violence against women. Such costs include the economic cost of treating and rehabilitating women survivors of violence, healing emotionally damaged children and families, the loss of women’s contribution to development, healing traumatized and dysfunctional families. It affects the cornerstone of Egyptian life and culture: the family and the community.
The National Council for Women (NCW) issued, in April 2009, the report ‘Egypt, Violence Against Women Study: a Summary of Findings’, pointing out that greater and stronger efforts have to be made. International and Egyptian researchers alike have confirmed that violence against women is both varied and widespread in Egypt.
The 2005 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) underlined the fact that 47 percent of ever-married women reported having experienced physical violence since the age of 15. In almost all of the cases the spouse was identified as the main perpetrator in at least one of the episodes. Also, acts of physically intimate partner/spousal violence were found to be a pattern of abuse rather than an isolated incident. The rates for physical and sexual violence only (excluding psychological violence) were 34 percent ever and 22 percent in the year previous to the DHS survey (2004). Besides this, according to Amnesty International, almost 250 women in Egypt were reported to have been killed in the first half of 2007 by violent husbands or other family members.
On the other hand, the study tried to measure the prevalence of community violence against women, which can be more difficult to detect than family violence. The most common practices, such as rape and sexual assault, are often underreported as crimes because of the stigma attached to being a 'violated woman'. However, most of the non-consensual sex occurs with individuals related to the victim: spouses, family members, dating partners or acquaintances.
In Egypt, it is estimated that most all of rape and sexual assault cases are not reported to authorities. Despite the difficulty in finding statistics, some studies have managed to uncover high rates of abuse.
UNFPA Egypt fights community violence, in collaboration with the Government, national institutions and NGOs, prioritizing two of the main violence practices detected: street harassment and Female Genital Mutilation.