We Believe the Survivors, Stand in Solidarity, and be Victorious for Rasha Azab

Open Call for signatures for international and regional feminist organizations and groups/individuals! 

*UPDATE* The Next Court session is on Saturday, April 23, 2022. We expect the sentence to be handed over in this session, We must protect the survivors and those who are in solidarity with them, we must stop the criminalization of feminist Solidarity. 

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We Believe the Survivors, Stand in Solidarity, and be Victorious for Rasha Azab

 

The Regional Coalition of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in the Middle East and North Africa calls on feminist organizations to stand in solidarity with the Egyptian journalist, writer, scriptwriter and WHRD Rasha Azab, as she was referred to trial on Saturday, February 26, 2022 on charges of defamation and slander. The background to this trial is due to her solidarity and support for the survivors of crimes of sexual violence committed by  (film) director Islam Azazi. Testimonies against him were published on the “Daftar Hekayat” blog, that published numerous testimonies of survivors of sexual violence crimes committed by more than one perpetrator. It is worth noting that she is the first activist to be tried for this reason, as a result of Azazi filing a case of slander and defamation against her, now she is liable to be tried according to Penal Code No. 58 of 1937 and Communications Regulatory Law No. 10 of 2003, which is punishable by imprisonment for two years and a fine ranging between 20 and 500 thousand Egyptian Pounds.

It should also be noted that the date of the director’s release of a power of attorney, against which 6 rape and harassment testimonies were published, accusing 5 people of slandering and defaming him dates back to January 10, 2021, while he submitted a complaint on January 13, 2021 against Rasha Azab and director Aida Al-Kashef on charges of slandering and defaming him. The communication was filed and closed on February 9, 2021, but a grievance was filed on February 16, 2021 and the case was reopened on March 1, 2021. The statements of the concerned director were taken on December 5, 2021, and the solidarity statements were added to the case file against Rashsa without investigation on December 26, 2021. After that, the case was referred to the court within only 13 days, as the report moved from the Partial Prosecution to the Public Prosecution, then the papers were moved from the Helwan Comprehensive Prosecution to the Financial and Administrative Affairs Prosecution on January 12 and 20, 2022, and finally, the case was referred from the Financial Affairs Prosecution to the Economic Court, stating that Rasha Azab was referred to trial on January 25, 2022.

Our region is witnessing a wave of feminist resistance that defies the silence that is expected of women and individuals towards sexual violence. This resistance is represented in multiple forms of disclosure, but also in accelerated unprecedented public waves of solidarity with the survivors and their supporters, demanding justice for them and those who preceded them, and calling for  protection for future generations. Sexual and gender-based violence usually aim to exercise power over the survivors, and relies mainly on societal norms that protect the aggressors in the name of culture, but no culture or art is built through violence.  While many institutions and initiatives in the region are working on laws criminalizing harassment and violence and protecting women, they sometimes overlook the violence practiced within artistic, civil circles and societies, making the places we assume safe infested with perpetrators who believe in their ability to escape accountability and punishment.

In the past few years, the voice of feminists and activists in the region has risen from silence-breakers, pioneers of revealing what is happening, believing in the ability of feminists, women and individuals to practice solidarity, through shaming perpetrators and putting pressure on the institutions concerned in holding the perpetrators accountable, and believing in the ability of women to change their fates and destinies. Protecting each other, as feminists, feminist organizations, and a community, and our safety and security as individuals is an essential step in protecting – not only survivors – but also the safety nets that help them recover and move beyond violence. Therefore, the WHRDMENA coalition calls for solidarity with Rasha Azab, as she is punished because of her solidarity with survivors of sexual violence crimes ranging from harassment to rape, as if society and the state are sending a clear message of the imperative to punish those who stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence crimes to ensure that the perpetrators are not punished! An indirect message is also sent to the survivors of these crimes not to disclose what is being committed against their right to their physical safety, in light of a time when these crimes are being revealed globally. Sexual violence is not the destiny of women and individuals in the region, we believe the survivors, support solidarity activists and insist that the perpetrators be punished

About Rasha Azab: Rasha Azab is an Egyptian journalist, activist, and writer. She received a B.A. in Media Education from Cairo University, where she studied journalism, theater and visual arts. She began her career in visual arts and theater in 2000, establishing an independent amateur theater festival. She edited the book Amateur Theater in Egypt, which includes articles and critiques by a number of prominent researchers in the field. She is one of the founders of the political social movement “Kefaya” against the Mubarak regime in 2004. Her role as an activist has been prominent in the Egyptian revolution through documenting abuses and police brutality by the military state against civilians. Her influence through writing has positioned her to be one of the influential women writers of this generation in Egypt. Azab then assisted director Manal Khaled in the production of her first documentary project in Gaza, Palestine, in 2008. She worked as a researcher for the Egyptian feature films The Day I Ate the Fish by Aida El Kashef. She is the author of Cinema Cairo, an illustrated book published by Zeytouna, in 2017. She wrote the introduction of Dream Factory on the Nile, a book about the history of Egyptian film production in Alexandria at the turn of the twentieth century to the late 1990s, published by AUC Bookstore, in 2019. She wrote the screenplay for the film Hammam Sokhn, “Trapped”, that was screened in 2021, for the first time by the Southwest Film Festival, Texas. Alongside her career as a scriptwriter and researcher, Azab has worked in local journalism since 1999, focusing on culture journalism in 2002 before moving to investigative reporting in 2013. Rasha Azab wrote her first fictional book, “A Heart of Salt”, published by Al Kotob Khan in January 2022. 

Signatures | Organizations

Organizational Signatories:

  1. The Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders | WHRD MENA Coalition
  2. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  3. Barah Amen (Safe Haven) – Under Foundation
  4. Alsiwar – Arab Feminist Movement
  5. Kohl Journal
  6. AlNadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture
  7. Committee for Justice
  8. FEMENA
  9. Holding Space
  10. International Service for Human Rights – ISHR
  11. Sudanese Women Rights Action
  12. Article 19
  13. Reproductive Rights Center, Switzerland
  14. Kvinna till Kvinna
  15. The Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  16. Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders
  17. Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice
  18. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
  19. Concerned Nigerians, Nigeria
  20. Consorcio para el Dialogo Parlamentario y la Equidad Oaxaca A C, Mexico
  21. ANKH (Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights)
  22. MENA Rights Group
  23. Fédération Internationale des Droits Humains
  24. Metro Organization for Defense of Journalists’ Rights, Iraq
  25. Coalition of African Lesbians
  26. Sexual Rights Initiative
  27. Equality Now

Individual Signatories:

  1. Asmaa Zeidan, Journalist, Egypt
  2. Radwa Fouda, Graphic Designer, Egypt
  3. Noha Elostaz, Director, Egypt
  4. Sarah Kadry, MA Student, Belgium
  5. Salma ElHosseiny, Human Rights Advocate, Egypt
  6. Gawhara Madkour, Lawyer, Egypt
  7. Farah Galal, Researcher, Egypt
  8. Islam Khafagy, Researcher, Cairo, Egypt
  9. Malak Boghdady
  10. Mai El Sadani, Human Rights Lawyer, USA
  11. Najwa Sabra, Humanitarian Aid Worker, Lebanon
  12. Maisoon Elmasry, Director, Egypt
  13. Mennatullah Essam, Engineer, Egypt
  14. Marina Samir, Translator and Feminist Researcher, Egypt
  15. Rasha Khaled, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Iraq
  16. Nour Haidar, Marketing Manager, Syria
  17. Lamis Soliman, Cinematic Set Designer, Egypt
  18. Mona Ezzat, Journalist and Researcher, Egypt
  19. Shahinaz Abdel Salam, Member of Ankh Organization, France
  20. Ahdaf Souief, Writer, Egypt
  21. Lama Jamal ElDin, Graduate Student, Lebanon
  22. Nana Abouel Seoud, Egypt
  23. Hind Ahmed Zaki, Egypt
  24. Lobna Darwish, Researcher, Egypt
  25. Shaimaa Hamdy, Journalist, Egypt
  26. Mona Selim, Journalist, Egypt
  27. Monica Hanna, Assistant Professor and Acting Dean of Faculty of Archeology and Cultural Heritage, Egypt
  28. Sally Youssry
  29. Salma Hindy, Journalist and Researcher, Egypt
  30. Rana Wael Hussein, Student, Egypt
  31. Shahd Karim, Student, Egypt
  32. Radwa Youssef, Sales, Egypt
  33. Nourhan Rabei, Student, Egypt
  34. Sama Mohamed Ali, Student, Egypt
  35. Salma ElHashmy, Student, Egypt
  36. Samar Dawoud, Egypt
  37. Kholoud Saber Barakat, Psychologist, Egypt
  38. Mona Mahran, Egypt
  39. Reem Abdel Kader, Student, Egypt
  40. Mahy Hassaan, Feminist Activist, Egypt
  41. Lamia Amin, Egypt
  42. Mona Anwar Ali, Egypt
  43. Hermas Fawzy, Engineer, Egypt
  44. Caroline Benson, Translator, Editor, Student, USA
  45. Nourane Abdelrazek, France, Social and Cultural Mobilizer.
  46. Ahmed Fouda, Photographer, Egypt
  47. Maie Panaga, Egypt
  48. Nahla Soliman, Researcher, Egypt
  49. Salma Akl, Film Editor, Egypt
  50. Marwa Fatata, Human Rights Activist, Palestine
  51. Mohamed Abuelshabab, Gender Researcher, Egypt
  52. Amina Cheballah, Algeria
  53. Ayman ElZaghdoody, Constitutional Law Professor, Tunisia
  54. Mayar Othman, Journalist, Egypt
  55. Nada Awad, International Advocacy Officer, CIHRS
  56. Resala Mahmoud, Teacher and Sports Trainer, Syria
  57. Adham Taleb, Durham University Professor, The United Kingdom
  58. Raghda Khairy, Photographer, Egypt
  59. Maha Alaswad, Researcher, Egypt
  60. Elena Cal Atán, Spain
  61. Mariam Khaled, Communications Team Leader, Etisalat, UAE
  62. Nada Ahmed, The United Kingdom
  63. Salma Salem Ahmed, Content Writer, Egypt
  64. Rawan Ali, Student, Egypt
  65. Hoor Ramadan, Egypt
  66. Chiara Reali, Researcher, Italy
  67. Heba Kamal, Researcher and PhD Student, Egypt
  68. Seth Binder, Human Rights Advocate, USA
  69. Nevine Mahfouz, Student, Egypt
  70. Ahmed Khalil, Student, Egypt
  71. Emanuela Fiorletta, Archivist, Italy
  72. Paul Senphysio, Sociologist, Germany
  73. Hala Makhlouf, Researcher, Egypt
  74. Milad Youssef, Medical Translator, USA
  75. Nada Abd Rabbo Mohamed, Egypt
  76. Hanan Abdallah, Film Director, London, The United Kingdom
  77. Sara Abed, Researcher, Egypt
  78. Sara Ismail, Artist, Egypt
  79. Salma Abed, Egypt
  80. Maya Dalloul, Legal Aid and Humanitarian Support Worker, Lebanon
  81. Alpas Pilipinas, Business Analyst, Germany
  82. Sandy Abdel Masih, Egypt
  83. Nihal ElMirghany, Administrative Officer, Egypt
  84. Youmna ElKhattam, Egypt
  85. Erika Smith, Trainer, Mexico
  86. Sama ElTorki, Translator, Egypt
  87. Lusor Bera, Academic, Australia
  88. Ilaf Salah, Student, Sudan
  89. Tara Carey, Head of Media, The United Kingdom
  90. Nevine Ebeid Fahim, Gender and Development Researcher, Egypt
  91. Sara Ramadan, Researcher, Egypt
  92. Ted Swedenburg, University Professor, USA
  93. Casa Clomova, Women’s Rights Program Coordinator, Czechia
  94. Asil Qraini, Palestine/France
  95. Hagar Hamdino, Public Relations, Egypt
  96. Mariam Metwalli, Egypt
  97. Nora Farahat, Director, Egypt
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