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Global Roundup: First Female Judge for Egypt Top Court, Protest and Crackdown vs Motorbike Taxis in Kenya After Woman Assaulted, Dating App Helping Queer Ukrainians Seeking Refuge,
Curated by FG intern Jana Kortam
Radwa Helmi sits on her first court hearing at the State Council in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Saturday. Photograph: Samer Abdallah/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian
Radwa Helmi has made history as the first woman to preside over a case in Egypt’s State Council. She is one of the 98 women appointed last March to sit on the bench in the council, one of Egypt’s main judicial bodies.
The fifth of March has become a new historical day for Egyptian women. The dreams of earlier generations of women finally come true. - Maya Morsi, head of the National Council for Women
The first woman to become a judge in Egypt was Tahany al-Gebaly, who was appointed in 2003 to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court. Gebaly, who died in January, held that post for a decade before being removed in 2012 by Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president in office at the time. Although there is no law that prevents women from becoming judges in Egypt, the judiciary has traditionally been all male. There are hundreds of female lawyers in Egypt but female judges make up only 0.5 percent of all judges in the country.
Last year, President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi instructed the Minister of Justice, Omar Marwan, to coordinate with the leaders of the Supreme Judicial Council and the State Council to ensure that female judges were elected to work across the courts. The 98 women were appointed in October.
Despite this advancement, Egyptian women remain a marginalized group. The Global Gender Gap report from a few years ago ranked Egypt 135th out of 149 countries. Last January, the Egyptian cabinet approved a bill that made it mandatory for women to get the consent of a male guardian to get married, to register a child’s birth or to travel abroad.
Although Sisi claims he supports women’s rights, critics have pointed out that this is not out of a commitment to gender equality but “…more of a strategy to harness women’s support against the Muslim Brotherhood than a genuine commitment to gender equality.”
The regime’s narrative blatantly contradicts its actual poor record on women’s rights, as documented by feminist organisations and international mechanisms. The Egyptian state’s feminist discourse is merely a diplomatic tool to attract international support. - EuroMed Rights
Photo via BBC
tw: sexual assault
After several motorbike taxi drivers assaulted a woman in Kenya, a video of the operators stripping her down as she screamed for help was shared online and went viral, eliciting public outrage across the country.
Around 150 activists marched in the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday to denounce the assault. They marched towards police headquarters, holding up signs reading "Listen to my cry" and "Today she is, tomorrow I am" demanding an end to violence against women.
The head of the judiciary Martha Koome called the incident "cruel, inhumane" and said in a statement "I denounce this act as barbaric and in need of the highest judicial attention.”
In response to the protests and the outrage over the assault, Kenyan Presdient Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a crackdown and a census of motorbike taxis across the nation which resulted in over 200 arrests.
Motorbike taxis, known as boda-boda, are a popular mode of transportation in Kenya. They must now re-register with the transport authorities or else face sanctions. According to official data from 2018, at least 1.4 million motorbikes are registered in Kenya, the majority of which are used as taxis.
Boda-boda drivers, usually young men, have a reputation for breaking traffic laws and attacking motorists in accidents. They have also often been accused of snatching and harassment of other road users, as well as abuse, including rape.
ROMEO, a well-known dating app that is like the European Grindr, has been used as a mutual aid hub to help Ukrainians after the Russian invasion of their country. The social media site and app first launched in Germany around 20 years ago. Today, it has 3 million members all around the world but is particularly popular in parts of Eastern Europe and the Baltics. However unlike Grindr, Romeo also allows users to join forum groups.
At the start of this week, the app launched an official group called “Shelter for Ukraine.” Since its launch, over 10,000 users have joined from all over Europe offering exclusively queer-friendly shelter.
We live in Prague and can offer a place to stay in our small guest room with one bed (140×200 for one person or couple).
I can host in Italy nearby Pisa ( Tuscany ) one or 2 people...I live actually in the countryside.I can travel and collect you up to the Italian border.
Although the app is mainly for gay men, the forum groups also offer help to their loved ones including women and children.
People are even offering shelter for Russian soldiers fleeing the Russian government.
I offer accommodation for the one or those you urgently need. Whether male or female, up to 2 people…Would also offer shelter or sanctuary to those Russian soldiers who oppose the war and/or are fleeing from Putin’s government as a result.
LGBTQ+ refugees are in danger from many threats, not just the war in Ukraine that they are fleeing, but also from the intense homophobia of the Russian government, not to mention Ukraine’s neighbor Poland—where over a million Ukrainians have fled—which is known for having a notoriously homophobic environment as well, and is even ranked last in Europe with regards to being gay friendly.
When we heard the news of the invasion of Ukraine, like many, we wanted to do something to help. We are an international team, with people from all over the world. Many of us have experienced war and oppression. Connecting people is what we do, so we looked at how we could use the platform to connect people in need, with our users who are willing to help. - ROMEO spokesperson.
Jana Kortam (she/they) is a sociology and feminist and gender studies student at the University of Ottawa. They are experienced at advocating against gender-based inequality especially in the SWANA community. They are actively engaging with intersectional feminist ideologies in order to radically smash the patriarchal supremacist society.
She believes that in order to be able to achieve justice, we must offer a microphone for minority voices unheard rather than narrate their stories for them.