To coincide with International Women’s Day, human rights activists and defenders in Egypt renewed their demand for the release of female political prisoners in the country, and the improvement of the conditions of female prisoners in general. Egyptian opponents accuse the regime of General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi of continuing to abuse dozens of female detainees and hold them in inhuman prisons, because of their political opinions or being relatives for some activists and opponents. International Women’s Day passed without any good news for female journalists, human rights lawyers, and oppressed ladies (young and old), despite international demands to support women’s rights and empower them in society. Human rights defenders assert that the violations of the Sisi regime against female political prisoners range from enforced disappearance, torture, denial of visit, and deliberate medical neglect.

Shocking numbers

Human rights organizations issued a joint report that monitors cases of violations of women’s rights in Egypt, highlighting their suffering. The report indicated that 316 Egyptian girls and women were killed in anti-regime demonstrations and sit-ins, while 120 women and girls are in arbitrary detention. He pointed out that 12 women and girls are under enforced disappearance and he does not know the place of their detention so far, while the authorities prevented 106 women from traveling abroad for political reasons. The human rights report also documented that at the university stage, 530 girls were subjected to arbitrary dismissal and that the authorities confiscated the funds of 100 women, while 115 girls and women were referred to the terrorism courts and 25 others for military justice, meaning that they are tried before exceptional courts and not before a natural civilian judge.

Torn families

The al-Sisi regime was not satisfied with arresting and chasing activists and opponents, but rather extended its oppression to extend their families, as the authorities arrested many women and girls merely because they were relatives or wives of some activists. For example, Aisha Khairat Al-Shater was arrested because of her father who occupies a leadership position in the Muslim Brotherhood. The regime also arrested Ola, the daughter of Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi, and her husband, for more than two years, on charges of “joining a terrorist group”, a charge that the regime usually uses to get rid of its opponents. International Peace for the Protection of Human Rights monitored the detaining of eight entire families inside Egyptian prisons, pointing out that these families were “arbitrarily arrested without clear or justified reasons, or without commitment to international law or covenants, or taking into account any of the humanitarian aspects of the members of these families, especially children and women who have been detained.” The organization pointed out that it monitored “many examples that demolish entire families by arresting the mother and father, displacing children, or arresting all children, or displacing the family in the way that the current government and its security services see in Egypt, most of which are contrary to the Egyptian constitution and international norms and conventions.”

Slow death

Last December, a group of women detainees in the Al-Qanater prison for women in Egypt issued a joint statement calling for the immediate release of them, after they started a hunger strike, in protest against their detention for months and years, without real cause or a specific charge. The detainees said in the statement: “In view of the difficult conditions of our imprisonment and the severe medical neglect we suffer and the presence of poor health conditions that suffer without any real medical care, we demand the release of us and the closure of all cases that are not based on any real charges or crimes. Human Rights Watch accused the Egyptian authorities of seeking to kill dissidents and detainees by detaining them in inhumane conditions, and preventing medication for the sick. On the other hand, the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory revealed that five Egyptian prisons for women do not have the minimum standards of human life, and that detention facilities are not subject to accountability. And at the beginning of last year, Adalah Center issued a report entitled “How do you treat a prisoner to death?”, In which he indicated that the number of deaths due to medical negligence in prisons between 2016 and 2018 reached about 819 cases, and the most prominent diseases suffered by the deceased Cancer, kidney failure and cirrhosis. On December 21, 2019, Mariam Salem died in prison due to deliberate medical negligence after deterioration of her health condition as she was suffering from hepatic fibrosis and an abnormally high rate of bile, which led to a state of abdominal dropsy. Mariam is the first female political prisoner to die in prison due to deliberate medical negligence, she is from North Sinai, was sentenced to 10 years in prison along with her mother and aunt. The 32-year-old woman was married and had got 4 children, including Abdel Rahman the youngest child that she had given birth to inside the Qanater Prison. Abdel Rahman was taken from her and placed in an orphanage when he was two years old because no one of the family members was there to take him, being all in prison. 10 days after Mariam Salem’s death, Human rights defenders revealed that her body is still held at the morgue of the Qanater prison, because no one of her relatives has received it for burial, as the security forces have forcibly disappeared the whole family. it was not clear what happened to her body later. Female detainees have repeatedly warned that they are being badly treated in detention and a number, including Esraa Abdel Fattah and Aisha Al-Shater, have launched hunger strikes in protest against the injustice they are suffering. A number of the prisoners’ families revealed that the detainees were subjected to torture in various forms, using electricity, being raped or threatened with rape, forcing them to undress, and being held in solitary confinement in small cells that lack ventilation and bathrooms. The Egyptian prosecution continues to use pretrial detention as a punishment for political opponents by renewing the imprisonment of dozens of women without bringing them to trial.