December 14, 2018
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This year we celebrate 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was signed. To mark the anniversary Metro.co.uk will explore how the rights and freedoms that the document protects continue to be relevant today.
Each day this week we will publish a first person piece by someone from around the world, supported by Amnesty International, whose story relates to one of the 30 articles in the UDHR.
Their stories shed light on the everyday abuses that people continue to suffer, as well as the absolute importance of a universally upheld vision and standard for human rights in the 21st century and beyond.
Women’s rights are a burning issue. Whether we’re talking about #MeToo, reproductive rights or violence against women – both on and offline – there is no doubt that a major culture shift is taking place globally.
As a lawyer who specialises in helping women survivors of violence, witnessing this sea change brings me a great deal of hope and joy.
However, while very real progress is being made, there are places where women risk their very lives to speak up about what they have endured or witnessed.
In Egypt, where I live, women are vilified by their own government for revealing the reality of harassment – even rape – that they face each day.
One of these women is me.
I’ve been defamed all over state-affiliated media, accused of being a spy and a national security threat.
I’ve been arrested from my house, emotionally blackmailed, and traumatised. I’ve been accused of spreading false news to destroy Egypt’s reputation.
Why? Because of my work standing up for women in my country and defending women survivors of violence.
And because by claiming rape and sexual harassment exist in Egypt, the authorities think I’m a threat to the country.
I’m a target because I care.
I have been working as a lawyer for 29 years. I co-founded the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance and Lawyers for Justice and Peace and I’ve heard and seen first-hand how devastating the impact of sexual harassment, intimidation and attacks on a woman can be.