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Beaten and Threatened for Defending Women’s Rights

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Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness head Reda Eldanbouki (Courtesy photo)
Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness head Reda Eldanbouki (Courtesy photo)

Reda Eldanbouki is a lawyer and the head of the Women’s center for Guidance and Legal Awareness in Egypt. He leads the battle for human and women’s rights and fights FGM in Egypt. He’s also a dear and close friend of Clarion.

A few days ago, Eldanbouki was brutally attacked while trying to save a young woman from being abused by her family.

The incident happened in the city of Mansoura, located northeast of Cairo. Eldanbouki got a phone call from a 25-year-old student who said, “Please, I need help! My parents won’t let me to go to my university! They won’t even let me leave the house. I’m a student in the faculty of sciences. They say it’s because I’ll have relations with a guy and I’ll bring them shame.”

Right after Eldanbouki took down her name and address, he heard screaming. The phone suddenly went dead.

Eldanbouki later found out that besides the fact that this young woman was dating a man who she had chosen (not her family), the girl was enmeshed in a battle with her family from whom she was demanding her inheritance rights.

Egyptian law allows women rights of inheritance. But not only are these laws not implemented, most men block female family members from receiving any of their rightful inheritance.

Without hesitation, Eldanbouki jumped in his car and sped to the young woman’s house. He knew calling the police would be worthless as they wouldn’t help in a situation like this. The young woman’s family also must have figured this out, because when he arrived, four male family members were waiting for him.

They grabbed him and dragged him to the fourth floor of the house where they tied his hands behind his back and bound his legs.

“You’re Reda Eldanbouki!” they shouted while kicking him all over his body and delivering punches to his chest and head. “You want our daughters to be infidels, not get circumcised and date men!”

They broke his glasses and took turns beating him, threatening him that if he continued to defend women and advocate for women’s rights, they would kill him.

At some point, Eldanbouki lost consciousness. He woke up on the side of a road with no ID and his phone broken. A note in his pocket read, “This is just a warning, the next time it will cost you your life.”

Eldanbouki is now recovering. When we asked him if he will continue to fight for women’s rights, he answered, “Without any hesitation, as long as I’m alive,” proving, unfortunately, that the fight for women’s rights in the Middle East is no less dangerous than the rest of the battles in that part of the world.

 

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Ran Meir

Ran Meir is Clarion Project's Arab affairs analyst and a Shillman Fellow. He can be reached at [email protected]