Last updated: 22 December, 2011

UN concerned about beatings of women in Egypt

The UN women’s agency on Thursday expressed “great concern” over the recent attacks on women protesters in Egypt and called on military to respect their civil rights.

“Women, along with men and children, have been victims of the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters over this past weekend and this week,” said Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, an entity that addresses issues related to gender inequality and women’s empowerment.

“We call upon the political and military authorities in Egypt to guarantee women’s political and civil rights, and to offer the government support in ensuring these rights are respected.”

Videos have surfaced over the past week showing Egyptian soldiers savagely beating women with truncheons, throwing them to the ground and, in one case, tearing off a woman’s clothes during recent protests in Cairo.

The beatings sparked a backlash, with thousands of women marching through Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on Tuesday in protest against the military junta that assumed power after the fall of president Hosni Mubarak in February.

On Tuesday the military said it strongly regretted the violence against women during the recent protests and vowed to hold accountable those responsible.

The military statement came the day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Egyptian authorities of failing women as she denounced the stripping and beating of the female protester as “shocking.”

In unusually strong language, she accused Egypt’s new leaders of mistreating women both on the street and in politics since the revolt brought down Mubarak.