Third murder of a woman in Egypt in 3 months for saying “no” to a marriage proposal

A young woman was killed in Egypt after rejecting a marriage proposal from a 29-year-old man from Tuh Tanbesha village in Menufia Governorate in the Nile Delta, highlighting an ongoing tragedy in the country: violence against women and the inability of authorities to prevent it.

Ahmed Fathi Amerira shot and killed 19-year-old Amani Abdul Karim on Saturday, then apparently turned the gun on himself and killed himself. Amani is the third woman killed in Egypt in just three months; each of them was killed after refusing to marry the murderer.

“What happened is not an ordinary crime, it is a new crime of violence against women and it is the killing of a woman,” Shaimaa Elbana, spokesperson for the Justice Committee, told MEMO.

“We see that violence in general is increasing in Egypt, especially state violence against all citizens. At the very least, identifying the crime and labeling it correctly helps us determine the reasons why it happens and helps us find solutions to protect women.”

Amani’s killing came shortly after an outpouring of solidarity with student Naira Ashraf, who was beaten and stabbed multiple times outside Mansoura University by Mohammed Adel in June.

Images of the killing went viral and the massacre shocked Egypt, especially after it emerged that Mohammed had been harassing Naira for a year, knowing the authorities who failed to prevent his death.

According to a Reuters article, Mohammed edited her face into pornographic images and sent her death threats for months before stabbing her.

Naira reported Mohammed to the police’s cyber crime unit and filed two restraining orders against him, but his lawyer said the police did not follow the correct legal procedures and no action was taken against him.

State media tried to shift the focus, in one case publishing an article claiming that men were killing their lovers because of “Othello’s disease,” or pathological jealousy.

From Naira Ashraf to schoolgirl Amani. The story “Love Never Kills” is an ongoing drama

Naira’s autopsy was released, focusing on her virginity test results and whether her hymen was intact. Then an argument broke out on the Internet. Why was Naira not wearing a headscarf? Could other women who chose not to wear it be subject to the same act of violence?

“Cover up or suffer the same fate,” said an Al-Azhar professor.

And just a month and a half after Naira’s brutal murder, it happened again. In early August, Islam Mohammed killed 20-year-old Salma Bahgat with 17 stab wounds in Zagazig, in the eastern Nile Delta. Islam had posted an article on his social media threatening Salma after she rejected his marriage proposal no”.

As Amina’s story spreads on social media, observers continue to mourn the deaths of Naira and Salma, calling for urgent justice for women in Egypt and for attention to be focused on what happened, not what happened.

“The killings are a continuation of violence against women in Egypt, which began with threats, beatings and harassment and continues every day without confrontation or clear rejection by society,” says Shaimaa.

“This is due to the toxic relationships between men and women, the cultural heritage that encourages violence, the religious interpretations that incite it, the lack of adequate legal protection, the existence of legal loopholes that allow criminals to go unpunished and the worsening of the security system in Egypt. And for these reasons, women don’t report what’s happening to them.”

In June, Naira’s killer, Mohammed Adel, was sentenced to death, Egypt’s maximum sentence for murder, and the court went so far as to request that the law be changed so that his execution would be televised to the nation.

In 2021, Egypt was the third most executed country in the world, despite calls from human rights groups and the United Nations for a moratorium on the death penalty as it spiraled out of control.

“The deterrent law does not mean revenge or death sentences – we reject that completely – because as we see, the killer of Naira Ashraf was sentenced to death, but that did not stop the crime and it happened again. Imposing a death sentence was never enough, and it does not deter or protect the new victim,” says Shaimaa.

Instead, women need a safe environment that encourages them to report abuse, she says, and that offers them protection and takes their reports seriously. This must start with schools educating new generations and through civil society, a difficult task as censorship and restrictions on NGOs are high in Egypt.

“I wish patience for all the women who are suffering from a trauma that is renewed with every new incident of violence against women in Egypt and in the Arab world,” says Shaimaa.

The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Monitor de Oriente.

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