With the arrest of 9 women for their public appearance on TikTok and the rise of notorious cases such as the Fairmont Incident and the Ahmed Bassam Zaki affair on the national debate stage, Egypt is witnessing a feminist revival that is equal parts hope and heartache—hope that, as a nation, Egypt will rise to the challenge of ensuring the safety and dignity of every woman and girl, and heartache for the millions of women for whom this feminist awakening was a day late and dollar short.
The road has been long and arduous for victims and survivors of gender-based violence, but along came a plethora of community initiatives and organizations all looking to offer a helping hand and, hopefully, make the process of coming forward easier and more feasible for any woman or girl who has ever experienced violence on the basis of her gender.
Abuse Relief Aide (ARA)
Founded by What Women Want Magazine Editor-in-Chief May Abdel Asim and Safe Kids Foundation founder Sara Aziz, the Abuse Relief Aide initiative consists of a network of volunteers, mental health and legal experts all working together to provide victims and survivors of sexual violence with psychological support, rehabilitation and legal counsel.
The initiative receives firsthand accounts via email to ensure anonymity for victims and survivors. The ARA also accepts reports from witnesses and other parties who wish to come forward, as long as they can provide written consent from the victim.
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR)
One of the country’s foremost independent women’s rights organizations and think tanks, the ECWR works to raise awareness about social and legal issues that impact women by producing reliable research and working directly with victims and survivors of gender-based violence and discrimination.
Through their initiative Es2al Mo7amek (Ask Your Online Lawyer), the ECWR provides free legal counsel and spreads legal awareness about legal proceedings. The initiative has lately focused on sexual harassment and assault issues, but they provide a wide array of pro bono legal services.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
The EIPR is one Egypt’s last remaining independent rights organization. In addition to raising awareness about human rights abuses, extrajudicial arrests and civil rights violations in Egypt, the EIPR works with victims and survivors of gender-based violence and provides them with legal counsel and psychological support.
The organization gained national recognition for its women’s rights activism earlier this year over its legal representation of Menna Abdel Aziz, a rape victim who was arrested and charged with inciting debauchery and violating family values for her choice of dress and dance moves on TikTok.
EMPWR Magazine is one of the Middle East and North Africa’s few mental health magazines. Shortly following the highly publicized Ahmed Bassam Zaki case and the overwhelming allegations of sexual abuse committed by him against more than 50 women and girls, the magazine announced it was starting a network of certified mental health professionals to provide free counseling and therapy to all survivors and victims of sexual violence. The service can be accessed here.
Lilac is a mental health platform launched a few years ago. In addition to providing safe spaces for trauma sufferers and members of persecuted groups, the platform also provides numerous mental health resources and works to raise awareness about mental health and the socio-cultural issues that contribute to its deterioration in Egypt.
With the resurgence of Egypt’s feminist movement earlier this year, the platform has been more focused on issues of gender-based violence and discrimination, working to link victims and survivors with trusted mental health professionals.