A woman's place is in the home.
“He beat me so hard that I left home many times. The police used to pick me up and make me go home again.”
Almost a year had passed since my mother died. She had divorced my father because he was violent, but she died of a heart disease. That’s why I was living with my father.
I met other children on my very first day on the street after I’d run away, children like me. I started smoking. After a week I was picked up and taken to a shelter, but another girl, who was maybe nine or ten, persuaded me to run away with her. I’ve been living on the streets ever since. Except for three years I spent at a school for young offenders, for begging. That’s how it works; the prosecutor looks at the case and sends the child away. If the parents don’t come and get them, they stay there.
I suppose I was about 12 when I got out, and since then I’ve been in and out. I became a real bully in there and used to beat up children who were both older and younger. It gave me a kick.
Three years ago I was raped by four men.
We were a gang of girls who stuck together on the streets, but some got married. Believe me, being a girl and living on the streets in Egypt is the worst kind of life. And it doesn’t matter what you write, it won’t change anything.
Girls who take drugs have to be careful not to take too many, or they’ll be raped. All girls have to know how to defend themselves against the boys. Fight back. I use a bottle or whatever I can get my hands on. I always carry a small knife with a razor blade, and I keep a bigger butcher’s knife in my trousers. Or I kick him in the balls. Once a boy head-butted me, so I pulled down a lamp, broke it and slashed his face with a piece of glass.
Three years ago I was raped by four men. I put up a fight, so they beat me bloody. Three of them were actually caught and got 25 years.
On a normal day I come here to the centre and have something to eat, have a shower and sit at the computer for a little while. I leave at around three, and probably go to Agosa, which is a nice place by the Nile. We sit and talk and we walk around and say hello to everyone. I have friends everywhere! We beg money from boys – and the police. Sometimes I stay up all night but I often sleep, there are lots of places. I might sleep in a mosque, on a bus, on the roof of a train or in some park. I’ve got a good place behind a police station, where I sleep on a rug which I hide in the garage where they keep the police cars.
The thing I long for most of all is a home of my own.
I wouldn’t exactly say I like my life but we do have some fun as well. At the same time, the thing I long for most of all is a home of my own. I married a boy once, just to have a home. He was a nasty piece of work, he hit so hard that I left home many times. The police used to pick me up and make me go back home. One day he cut up my face with a knife, from the corner of my mouth all the way up to my ear. The scar looks a lot better now.
I never reported it to the police, I was happy I got a divorce. I knew how bad he was when I married him!
Now I just want to save up, so I can buy furniture for my own home. At least for the bedroom, that’s a start. I’m going to have a huge wardrobe in my own bedroom, which will be brown or white. White’s probably the nicest.
Maternal deaths: 43 deaths per l00,000 births.
Number of children/woman: 2.97 (estimate for 2011)
Abortion legislation: Abortion is not legal. It is only allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. Very restrictive application.
Law against rape within marriage: No
Violence against women in close relationships: Two women are raped every hour. Only 12 per cent of 2,500 incidents of sexual harassment were reported to the police.