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Egypt arbitrarily detaining women related to Daesh fighters despite abuses

Victims of torture and abuse have been jailed by Egyptian authorities who claim they are members of Daesh

May 17, 2023 at 10:53 am

Egyptian authorities have arbitrarily detained women and girls related to Daesh members who have themselves been raped and forced into marriage.

A new report by advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights says that these women were detained by Egyptian authorities in North Sinai after they escaped the militant group and sought help.

They have been tortured and held incommunicado and not treated as victims of crimes.

“Many women and girls in North Sinai have already suffered intolerable abuse at the hands of ISIS-linked members,” said Adam Coogle, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, in reference to Daesh.

“The Egyptian government should be protecting them, not locking them up and torturing them.”

According to the report, abuses carried out by Egyptian authorities include beatings, torture by electric shock and rotation, the name given to keeping prisoners arbitrarily detained beyond judicial orders to release them by bringing new charges against them.

One of the women interviewed for the report said that women related to Wilayat Sinai, which has pledged allegiance to Daesh, were being used for sex.

“They were treated as slaves and servants… a woman would sit in a tent until a man would go into her tent [to have sex] and now they’re married.”

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One of the women detained by Egyptian authorities was 15 years old and had already been through three forced marriages.

Another moved from Cairo to North Sinai after her husband told her he had been offered a government job but when they arrived, she found out they would live in a Wilayat Sinai hideout.

The woman said she had to move there after her husband kidnapped their two daughters.

The independent rights group Belady interviewed 106 women and six girls from North Sinai who had been detained on charges related to Wilayat Sinai and found that 85 per cent wanted a divorce and nine were forcibly married including the six girls.

Lawyers and witnesses say that their treatment by authorities was aimed at extracting information about male members of the group and forcing them to turn themselves in.

Ahmed Salem, executive director of the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, said: “The authorities should immediately free all women and girls held merely for being related to or associated with male suspects and investigate torture and other ill-treatment against them.”