In a blog post titled “Please God. Please make it stop.” Natasha Smith, a freelance multimedia international journalist and current Associate Editor on Fair Observer's Middle East desk, tells the horrific story of her sexual assault experience in Tahrir square on Morsi victory day.
On Sunday, as Cairo's symbolic Tahrir Square was celebrating with wild cheers and fists pumping Egypt's new president-elect Mohamed Morsi, on the outskirts of the square along the Kasr El Nil Bridge Natasha Smith was being sexually and physically attacked.
"Just as I realised I had reached the end of the bridge, I noticed the crowd became thicker, and decided immediately to turn around to avoid Tahrir Square," she says, before adding "But in a split second, everything changed [...] Men began to rip off my clothes. I was stripped naked [...] Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way."
Smith escaped the crowd after a few men, "a small minority" she says, tried to protect her and took her to a tent. Right as she thought she was safe from any harm, her ordeal continued: "Although a few men tried to form a human shield around me [...] men were still able to touch me. There were just too many," she says.
It is only when her friend Callum convinced people inside a medical tent to form a pathway through the crowd to guide her to another tent that the young woman finally escaped.
Smith was told she was attacked due to rumours that she was a foreign spy, following a TV advert warning Egyptians from speaking to foreigners appeared on state TV before the Minister of Information ordered to pull it off the air. The freelance journalist says the advert was only "used as a pretext, an excuse, to molest and violate a blonde young Western girl."
This is not the first time sexual harassment stories in Tahrir Square are reported. In January, as Egyptians were commemorating the one-year anniversary of the revolution in the iconic Tahrir Square several women were sexually assaulted. A foreign woman was assaulted in front of her husband who did not manage to protect her from a herd of men who torn her clothes off and grabbed her body.
That same night, a group of three women including an Arab-American girl were also assaulted. A crowd of men encircled the three young ladies and pushed them to the ground before trying to take their pants off. Heather and her roommates desperately tried to defend themselves but in vain. “It is disgusting. They put fingers up my ass” Heather told local media at the time of the incident.
Last November, Award-winning Egyptian-American columnist Mona el-Tahawy was beaten and sexually assaulted only a few days after French female journalist, Caroline Sinz, was also assaulted in Tahrir by a crowd of men as her cameraman and her were reporting on clashes in central Cairo.