Trigger Warning: this article discusses a sensitive topic; if you are uncomfortable with reading about abuse, we would recommend skipping it.
Egypt has taken another step towards empowering women and helping those suffering and in need. On Tuesday, December 10, the Ministry of Social Solidarity announced the opening of a new women shelter in Giza. This shelter isn’t the first of its kind, there are eight other shelters present in Cairo, Daqahlia, Minya, Qalyubia, Alexandria, Beni Suef and Fayoum. These shelters offer help to battered women, domestic abuse victims, victims of human and sex trafficking and women with disabilities.
The shelter offers healthcare, psychotherapy and a lot of other social services to guarantee the victims’ welfare and legal assistance. This shelter offers different facilities to women and young girls like opportunities to practice and learn new skills and trades and showcasing them through ministry-organized exhibitions. The shelters also work closely with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Education, to offer support and rehabilitation to children who come from abusive homes, those who witness the abuse of their mothers and those who suffer from abuse.
Until recently domestic abuse was normalized by society, discussing what happens behind closed doors was simply taboo. It was okay for the man to bully and abuse his wife physically and mentally; it was excused by saying that the couple is just fighting, that it’s part of every marriage and that it is normal. Even child abuse is a normal part of families, parents abusing the power given to them and making their children feel physically and emotionally threatened.
Creating this shelter and starting the discussion is a step in the right direction. However, we can’t ignore males who get abused, too. Whether in a relationship or in their day to day life, it seems like it has become a norm for our society to ignore the violence and pain men face by denying it and masking it as part of masculinity. According to the UN’s crime statistics, Egyptian women are the world’s number one in abusing and beating their husbands, so as controversial as this topic is, we need to discuss the violence occurring against men who are unable to protect themselves against their spouses and females in general without breaking the law.
Ignoring the toxicity and expectations of Egyptian families won’t make abuse -in all its forms- disappear and this is why, this shelter is a step in the right way towards creating positive change.