When Samira Ibrahim makes a rare foray into the streets of her hometown of Sohag in Upper Egypt or to a demonstration on the streets of Cairo, she has the distinct feeling of being watched.
“I never feel comfortable,” she said during in an interview in a Cairo cafe. “The only place I can feel like myself is in my home with my family. Everywhere I go, I feel there are eyes on me. They want me to forget everything and just go away.”
Ms Ibrahim, 25, is taking on, under her own name, a battle against the powerful ruling generals. She is the only named plaintiff in several legal cases against the officers who conducted “virginity tests” on 17 women protesters detained by the military last year.
After repeated death threats, she travels only with trusted friends, avoids being alone in public and hangs up on unknown callers. Applications for jobs are mysteriously turned down.
Khaled Fahmy, the chair of the history department of the American University of Cairo, wrote in an essay in an Egyptian newspaper on Monday Ms Ibrahim’s lawsuit was “the most significant development concerning the right of women to their bodies and the most important act of rebellion of 2011, a year in which there has been no shortage of acts of courage and rebellion”.
Female protesters were arrested and then stripped and checked to see if their hymens were intact. She was also beaten and electrocuted. I hope she’s successful in bringing her torturers to justice.