Egypt is worst Arab state for women, Comoros best: survey

Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:54am EST
 
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By Crina Boros

LONDON, Nov 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sexual harassment, high rates of female genital cutting and a surge in violence and Islamist feeling after the Arab Spring uprisings have made Egypt the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, a poll of gender experts showed on Tuesday.

Discriminatory laws and a spike in trafficking also contributed to Egypt's place at the bottom of a ranking of 22 Arab states, the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey found.

Despite hopes that women would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the Arab Spring, they have instead been some of the biggest losers, as the revolts have brought conflict, instability, displacement and a rise in Islamist groups in many parts of the region, experts said.

"We removed the Mubarak from our presidential palace but we still have to remove the Mubarak who lives in our minds and in our bedrooms," Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy said, referring to Egypt's toppled dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

"As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who've ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women."

The foundation's third annual women's rights poll (poll2013.trust.org)

gives a comprehensive snapshot of the state of women's rights in the Arab world three years after the events of 2011 and as Syria's conflict threatens further regional upheaval.

Iraq ranked second-worst after Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. Comoros, where women hold 20 percent of ministerial positions and where wives generally keep land or the home after divorce, came out on top, followed by Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar.   Continued...

 
A woman, with the national flag covering part of her face, takes part in a protest rally against then Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood in front of the courthouse and the Attorney General's office, near Tahrir Square in Cairo, in this March 8, 2013 file picture. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Files