Thousands joined a rare protest by women on Tuesday in the Egyptian capital Cairo. The "Million Women" march protesting police brutality and violent assaults on female protesters by the country's security forces underscored public outrage following an incident this weekend that has garnered international attention. Footage showing security forces beating and kicking a female protester, stomping on her body and then dragging her through the street sparked outcry. In the video below, Egyptian police drag the woman by her abaya, exposing her midriff and bra, a sexually-tinged assault in the conservative country. According to some reports, an older couple who went to her aid were subsequently also beaten.
"We pay for the armed forces, and we put uniforms on them so they protect us, not attack us," Nawarah Negm, a prominent activist, told the Associated Press. "They say they are here to protect us, but they are stripping us naked," the crowds chanted.
According to CNN, the women were accompanied by dozens of men to protect them from further assaults. Many carried signs with images of the beaten Tahrir woman.
The video, which was quickly shared on YouTube and Twitter, sparked international outrage.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sharply criticized the violent crackdown on protesters, and women in particular, saying "women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago," according to Reuters.
"Women protesters have been rounded up and subjected to horrific abuse. Journalists have been sexually assaulted. And now, women are being attacked, stripped, and beaten in the streets," she continued.
General Adel Emara stated on Monday that the assault on the woman was an isolated incident and would be investigated. However, he also denied that the military had used violence in the government's crackdown.
"The armed forces and the police pledged not to use violence against protesters actively or even verbally," he said, according to the New York Times.
There were some reports that Egypt's military had issued an apology for the incident on Facebook.
On Tuesday, Cairo entered a fifth day of clashes between protesters and security forces near the city's Tahrir Square. The clashes erupted after security forces violently removed a small group of protests near the landmark square, quickly escalating into a days-long street battle. 14 people have died in the most recent spate of violence, and more than 300 have been wounded.