Being a woman in Egypt can be a struggle according to recent studies. Using a random sample of 100 married women between the ages of 14 and 65 from Manshier Nasser, a settlement ten minutes outside of Cairo, revealed that 30 percent of the women questioned admitted to being subjected to domestic violence on a daily basis and 34 percent on a weekly basis according to a study conducted by the U. N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
For 75 percent of these women, the reason for the domestic violence was due to refusing sex with their husbands. 16 percent of these women suffered injuries so severe that they required hospitalization. Even more frightening, according to the World Health Organization, 97 percent of married women in Egypt aged 15 to 49 have undergone female genital mutilation, a process that removes the clitoris and outer labia minora. Moustafa is no stranger to these aspects of her culture.
Her father, Gouda Moustafa and her younger brother, Ahmed Moustafa follow her everywhere she goes, sifts through her emails and routinely checks her cell phone. They monitor who she spends time with and for how long, and is required to be home by 9 p. m. Her brother even takes the same classes at UDC to keep an eye on his sister. She has realized the consequences of upsetting her family. Last summer, she was seen speaking to a male friend at the apartment pool. Her father waited for her to walk through the door of their apartment and slapped her repeatedly.
She threatened to call the police, which angered her father all the more. He hit her harder in the face, called her a slut and ripped out her earring. Bleeding and crying, Ayat Moustafa crumpled to the floor as her father continually hit and kicked her. For the next two months she was not allowed to leave her apartment even to go out on the balcony. “My father was angry because he believed he would be seen with dishonor,” said Ahmed Moustafa. In Egyptian society domestic violence in the name of honor is all too common.
“Official statistics indicate that murders committed in defense of honor accounted for 5. 4 percent of all the murders committed in Egypt in 1997,” according to Amnesty International. Ayat Moustafa fell into a deep depression following the attack by her father. She was unable to sleep. She was unable to eat. “I just wanted to die,” she said. She tried to commit suicide twice by overdosing on a mixture of pills. Ayat Moustafa was eventually sent to the emergency room after collapsing in the shower.
The doctor told her that the anxiety was pushing her blood pressure so high that she was going to have a heart attack if things didn’t change. She has since recovered but she lives in fear everyday. “I won’t survive if I go back to Egypt,” Ayat Moustafa said. She struggles knowing that her family will disown her if she stays in the U. S. Still she presses on to save enough money to hire an immigration attorney to become a U. S. citizen. “I don’t miss home, because in my mind…I am home,” she said.