Two sexist murders of two young college girls just three days apart, both committed by two rejected suitors. The first to a young woman in Egypt, the other in Jordan. They are the latest example of the extreme violence women are subjected to in the Arab world. These femicides have unleashed a wave of dismay and anger among the citizens of these countries, who are urging the authorities to get to the root of this scourge: machismo, misogyny. In response to the brutal levels of sexist violence, a call for a transnational women’s general strike on July 6 has gained momentum on social media. The sponsors of the summonswhich has almost 20,000 followers on Facebook, criticize institutions failing to meet their responsibilities to protect, and their passivity in pursuing structural changes to ensure their right to life.
The first killing occurred Monday, June 20, outside the University of Mansura, a town in northern Egypt, where 21-year-old art student Nayera Ashraf was stabbed multiple times and her throat cut in front of scores of witnesses, in full view of daylight for a young man she had rejected: Ashrafa refused to marry him. The crime was caught on video, which quickly spread across social media. In it, the killer can be seen lunging at her in the middle of a busy street.
Two days after the crime, the Egyptian public prosecutor announced that the confessed killer had been arrested and brought to justice. The State Ministry stated in a statement that the killer’s mobile phone contained several messages threatening to cut Ashraf’s throat. Authorities have also indicated that on the day of the crime the killer got on the same bus as the student who was going to the university to take some exams. Upon exiting the vehicle, he attacked her with a concealed knife. The first session of the trial was scheduled for Sunday, but the court postponed the hearing until Tuesday.
Despite the prompt response from prosecutors, the details that emerged over the months leading up to the murder and the reaction from some sections of society continued to heat public opinion. Ashraf’s entourage has ensured that the young woman has made several complaints against the killer to the police, who have often been accused by sections of the citizenry of being passive and indifferent to these cases, and that the prosecutor’s office has already issued injunctions.
Guilty of not wearing a veil and wearing tight clothes
A televangelist and professor at the prestigious Al Azhar religious university accused Ashraf of her own murder for not wearing a veil and tight clothing. A large poster commemorating the young woman that hung in front of the scene of her murder also contained a manipulated photograph in which she appears to be wearing a veil, although she was not wearing it.
The televangelist’s message provoked a strong reaction on social networks and in some media outlets. The official National Women’s Council reported that they have reported this man to the authorities for his misogynistic character and for inciting violence and murder, a punishable crime.
The second killing occurred last Thursday, when a 37-year-old man repeatedly shot young nursing student Iman Rashid after he sat an exam at a university in Amman, the capital of Jordan. According to Jordanian media reports, Rashid’s killer managed to enter the campus despite carrying a gun. Although the young woman was taken to a nearby hospital, she died shortly thereafter.
In this case, Rashid’s killer committed suicide after police located and surrounded him, the country’s public security reported on Sunday a statement. Some local media have released an alleged screenshot of a mobile phone showing a message the killer is said to have sent to the victim, assuring her that he would kill her along the lines of if she didn’t agree, to marry him which Ashraf had succeeded in Egypt.
After the assassination of Rashid, who was buried a day later in northern Jordan, social media was once again filled with messages of outrage and sadness and calls for justice. The young woman’s university too advertisement that he had decided to rename one of his faculty rooms with his name to commemorate his memory.
Although it has received less attention than the previous two cases, the Jordanian was in his twenties last Saturday Lubna Mansur, was also murdered by a man in the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. The Emirates Police reported that the woman had been stabbed in her car, where she was later found. Agents arrested his killer shortly thereafter. Although authorities did not identify the killer or the victim, Mansur’s family did so on social media.