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Egyptian woman murdered on campus in third femicide case this week

The spate of killings is part of an 'epidemic' of gender-based violence in Egypt, says activist
Nourhan (pictured) was gunned down by a colleague on campus (social media)

An employee of Cairo University was killed on campus on Thursday, in the third incident of femicide in Egypt in two days.

State-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the woman, identified only by her first name, Nourhan, was gunned down by a colleague whose marriage proposal she had rejected, following months of harassment.

The assailant reportedly later killed himself with the same gun.

A day earlier, 32-year-old Shaimaa Abdel Karim was fatally shot by her 36-year-old ex-fiancee while leaving work in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo.

The ex-fiance had reportedly repeatedly stalked and harassed Karim since she ended the engagement 12 years ago.

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On Wednesday, a third woman, identified as 33-year-old Sumayya by local media, was stabbed to death by her ex-husband in Omraniya as she was leaving her work at a factory.

According to the reports, the perpetrator had harassed Sumayya for two years after their divorce and threatened her when she became engaged in a new relationship.

Human rights lawyer Mai-El Sadany has described the string of killings as "a crisis".

An epidemic of violence

The murders are not isolated incidents in Egypt, but part of a pattern in a country where women have long suffered from violence and sexual harassment.

In September 2022, Amany Abdel Karim, a 19-year-old student, was allegedly killed by a man whose offer of marriage was rejected by her family.

Her murder was part of a spate of killings earlier that year, including 20-year-old student Salma Baghat, who was killed by a fellow student in the city of Zagazig; and Nayera Ashraf, a 21-year-old student who was stabbed 19 times outside the university in Mansoura, north of Cairo. 

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“One of the most problematic things about dealing with violence against women…(is that) people talk about it as if it is the first time (it has happened), without understanding there is an epidemic of violence against women,” Mozn Hassan, women's rights advocate and founder of the feminist organisation Nazra, told Middle East Eye.

“I think this is the problem with viewing gender issues as something that is parallel to society. It's not, it’s part of what is happening [in society].

“People are shocked..but this has been reported systematically since 2011, and it’s increasing.” 

Nearly eight million Egyptian women were victims of violence committed by their partners or relatives, or by strangers in public spaces, according to a United Nations survey conducted in 2015.

In 2021, Egypt’s Edraak Foundation for Development and Equality recorded over 813 cases of violence against women and girls, up from 415 the previous year.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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