Each year the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers highlights sixteen women, men and organizations that standout in the fight against gender violence. Representing December 5th, is:
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
A Human Rights Lawyer
Hossam Bahgat is the founder and director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a Cairo-based independent human rights organization established in 2002 to promote and defend the rights to privacy, health, religious freedom and bodily integrity, through research, advocacy and strategic litigation.
With training in political science and international human rights law, Bahgat is also the vice president of the Egyptian Association against Torture, an Advisory Board member of the New Woman Foundation and a Steering Committee member of Sexuality Policy Watch.
In 2006, the EIPR brought before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights a case challenging the Egyptian government’s failure in its positive obligation to prevent and prosecute sexual violence against women.
The case (filed jointly with Interights) is the first of its kind for the African human rights system and a final decision on its merits, is expected by the end of 2008.
USAns might consider EIPR a kind of ACLU for Egypt. One example is the case filed in December of 2006 on behalf of an Egyptian who professed the Bahá’í Faith. His Egyptian Identification cards were confiscated. Bahgat said that it is required that IDs indicate the person’s religion as Christian or Muslim. Egypt’s Mufti, Alii Goma, declared the man and others, who were joined in the suit, should claim themselves as Muslim. In January, of 2008 the case was successful. However, it is unclear whether ID cards have been issued as of yet. However, for USAns, this case is a prime example of how religion and political systems are intertwined in Egypt.
The Egyptian Association against Torture appears to have been renamed or become part of the Arabic Network for Human rights Information. A look at their press releases HERE, is a poignant window on the efforts to maintain free speech and the important work that writers, journals and bloggers, and their lawyers are doing in Egypt.
While EIPR is described in Wikipedia, Hossam Bahgat does not currently have a page.
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