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I felt hands touch me from all directions, and I was moved, almost carried, inside the circle as people continued saying: "don’t worry." They were saying that while violating me ...
Perpetrators regularly claim to be helping the women when in fact they are attacking them, which increases the difficulty for rescuers and leaves the women not knowing who to trust.
They were called to 19 incidents on 25 January 2013 alone, and were able to respond to 15 of them.
Rescuers have described how assailants have set up makeshift tea stands in the crowd; in one case boiling water from a tea stand was thrown over rescuers who had formed a protective ring around a woman.
The victims of these attacks said they typically lasted from a few minutes to over an hour, and that the men were usually in their 20s and 30s. Describing the Tahrir Square attacks, women said they were often separated from friends by the crowd, or out alone, and encircled by a large group of men who groped their breasts, genitals and buttocks.
Attempts were made to pull or cut their clothes off, and their bodies were pulled in different directions as men move her through the crowd.
Several more journalists were among the hundreds of women who experienced mass sexual assault over the following few years: French journalist Caroline Sinz in November 2011; British journalist Natasha Smith in June 2012; Egyptian journalist Hania Moheeb on 25 January 2013, along with 18 other women; and a Dutch journalist in June 2013.
The last thing I heard was "don't worry," followed by screaming ...
At first they tried to rip my bag out of my hands; I then felt hands all over my body, tearing down my trousers and long jacket; they were undoing its clips. They pulled my trousers and pants down, but couldn’t get them all the way down because I was wearing boots that they couldn’t manage to get off ...
Women testify to having heard attackers say: "Do not be afraid; I'm protecting you," or "you are like my sister, do not be afraid." Volunteer groups in Cairo, including Op Anti SH (Operation Anti Sexual Harassment), organize "extraction teams" who push into the circles wearing padded clothing, helmets and gloves, and get the women out.
Other Op Anti SH teams carry spare clothes and medical supplies, operate a hotline so that the extraction teams know where to go, and offer counselling and legal and medical help.