This is the story of a woman sexually assaulted for daring to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood regime that Barack Obama insists has to be part of any future Egyptian government.
This is the story of a woman sexually assaulted for daring to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood regime that Barack Obama, John McCain, and not so surprisingly, Senator Menendez, insist have to be part of any future Egyptian government.
She saw them running towards her as she approached Cairo’s Tahrir Square and within seconds she was surrounded.
What followed for Yasmine El-Baramawy was the most terrifying 70 minutes of her life – a prolonged, brutal rape and sexual assault by dozens of men, while a crowd looked on. And did nothing.
More than 100 thugs also beat her with sticks and slashed at her with knives – disgusting, degrading ‘punishment’ because she dared to join the protests against former President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party.
Yasmine was back in Tahrir Square yesterday – and once again felt that rising sense of panic as vast crowds clashed.
Egyptian civil rights activists say that at least 91 women were sexually assaulted or raped in Tahrir Square during protests, which began last Sunday.
The assailants operated in a climate of impunity – encouraged by religious zealots within the government who had called female protesters whores and who had blamed rape victims for not staying home. It is even believed that the gangs were paid by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yasmine’s nightmare happened last November as she tried to join friends in the square to protest against Morsi’s constitutional changes, which granted him unlimited powers.
Despite her statuesque 5ft 9in frame, Yasmine could do nothing to stop them. The daughter of a businessman and a chemist, Yasmine is a strong, intelligent and confident young woman, who has always felt able to take care of herself. But the numbers were overwhelming.
"I didn’t know what was happening to me or when it would end. I thought that I would faint or die, but I still tried to fight back.’
She was dragged several hundred yards as the mob feverishly tore at her clothes. Some tried to cut them off while she desperately clung to her trousers.
‘When they couldn’t get the jeans off, they slit them at the back with a knife. I was bleeding from my face and nose, but that didn’t stop them.’
Surprisingly, her attackers were not feral kids or teenagers, but grown men ‘aged in their 20s to 40s.’ Some were well-dressed and respectable.
Yasmine adds: ‘One guy tried to French kiss me and I bit his tongue so hard it bled. He screamed in agony and started kicking me in the back as I lay on the ground.
'They tried to put me in a car, but there were so many people crowding around it that they couldn’t open the door. I ended up pinned to the bonnet as they drove a block away.’
The attack continued as the vehicle crawled along at slow speed. Some of the men whispered menacingly, ‘We are going to f*** you.’
By now Yasmine was covered with blood and excrement, having been pushed into sewage on the ground.
Thankfully, she was eventually rescued by a woman dressed in traditional Islamic dress and several of her male friends and neighbours.
She blames a cultural acceptance of sexual harassment and an orchestrated campaign by the state for what happened – and is calling for a comprehensive national strategy on the part of the government to change public attitude.
Mervat El-Tallawy, a prominent Egyptian female politician, told The Mail on Sunday it was women who had suffered most under Morsi’s regime.
‘His party regard them as little more than chattel and sex slaves,’ says Ms El-Tallawy, chairwoman of the National Women’s Council.
She described the mob rapes as ‘sexual terrorism’ aimed at scaring women into a submissive role.
‘In February 2012, members of the Shura Council, Egypt’s legislative body, blamed women for the increase in sexual assaults “because they put themselves in such circumstances’’,’ says Mrs El-Tallawy. ‘In doing so, they sent the signal that it is OK for a man to touch any woman in the street.
‘Morsi’s government moved to deny women the right to right to seek a divorce under Islam, supported female circumcision, sacked women in top government jobs and tried to lower the age of consent for girls to marry from 18 to nine.
‘His party is notoriously anti-women. Its members don’t see us as citizens, even though we make up nearly half the population.
'They want to treat us like slaves whose role is to bear babies and serve the sexual needs of men. They have tried to take us from a modern, civilised and religiously tolerant country back into the dark ages.’
It might be a stretch to say that Egypt was ever all that religiously tolerant but there is no doubt that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood made things worse. But despite that Obama and McCain seem determined to put the Brotherhood back in power.