Premieres Mon, March 25 & Tues, March 26
FULL EPISODE

The Trials of Spring

Follow three Egyptian women as they put their lives and bodies on the line fighting for justice and freedom. The film tells the story of Egypt’s Arab Spring, the human rights abuses that came to define it and the women willing to risk everything.

AIRED: 3/25/2019 | EXPIRES: 4/23/2019 | 00:54:56
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♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] [ Camera shutter clicking ] -The Muslim Brotherhood, a group long banned here, which is by far the biggest underground organization in Egypt, says it joined the protests.

Mubarak called in the army.

But when armored vehicles rolled into Cairo, they seemed to take no action against the demonstrators.

[ Camera shutter clicking ] -President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt, and he has decided that the armed forces will lead the nation.

[ Crowd cheering ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] [ Drumming ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Crowd chanting ] [ Speaking native language ] [ Crowd chanting ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] -'They insulted us, and beat us,' she said, 'then shocked us with electric prods.

They ordered us to undress completely, and split us into two groups.'

She was forced to lie on a table and undergo a virginity test.

She told us that the military called her a 'prostitute,' and says the test is meant to humiliate women and scare them away from protesting.

-Egypt's generals admitted that the tests had taken place.

One general told them that the tests were carried out to help defend the army against potential claims of rape.

♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Protesters are demanding an end to military rule and the handover of power to a civilian government.

-Any hope Egypt's military would hand over power ahead of its own schedule were dashed in the second day of violence that has left at least nine dead and hundreds wounded.

[ Speaking native language ] [ Sirens wailing ] [ Indistinct talking ] -14 people have been killed, hundreds injured over the last three days of clashes.

A video uploaded yesterday on YouTube and circulated widely provoked outrage at the extent of police brutality.

-What happened sent Egyptian women into the streets, with a protest that had been called perhaps the most significant of its kind in its country in nearly 100 years.

[ Crowd chanting ] -Everyone was carrying the posters of a cartoon of an Egyptian woman, and, um -- and a hand of a military conscript, and you could see the uniform.

And it says which means, 'I'll cut off your hand.'

It was so powerful.

Women marching, just saying, 'The daughter of Egypt will never be stripped.'

[ Crowd chanting ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -It was definitely something new for Egypt, to have two candidates competing -- really competing.

But having to choose between an Islamist or one of Mubarak's best friends -- it's unfair.

It's unfair for what people have been dreaming about and -- and fighting for.

♪♪ I knew that, if Morsi was to become the president of Egypt, it would be a huge challenge.

The Brotherhood would be using a religious narrative when it comes to minimizing the age of marriage, sexual harassment, the participation of women in politics.

This is what I feared the most.

-Mohamed Morsi has been sworn in as Egypt's first democratically elected civilian president.

♪♪ [ Chanting in native language ] -Many people remain concerned the Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate will take Egypt down a road of more strict Islamism.

♪♪ -It's unclear how much power the new president will have.

The Military Council gave itself sweeping new powers and curtailed those of the president.

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ [ Conversing in native language ] -[ Crying ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -After Morsi came to power, there was a series of violations against freedom of expression.

There were still people in prison, there were still civilians being tried before military courts.

People were accused of blasphemy -- and many of them were Christians.

So, it was frightening when Morsi came to power.

[ Speaking native language ] We thought, in 2011, that we'd be going forward.

We were going backwards.

We've been going backwards.

[ Crowd chanting ] I joined the protest against Mohamed Morsi, but with big gatherings come big problems.

In the midst of all the protests, many women got assaulted.

I was touched and groped by many men.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence has been super-evident since the virginity -- 'virginity tests.'

I mean, rape and mob assaults, they were taking place all the time.

But who did anything?

No one.

It was just us protecting ourselves.

So, we decided, as a group of friends, to form some sort of an intervention team.

It started off as Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment, and then, later on, when we realized that we should not sugarcoat the level of the crime, we added slash assault.

We walk around in Tahrir, and whenever we see cases of sexual harassment, we try to do something about it.

On the 25th of January 2013... ...we documented 19 cases of mob sexual assault and rape.

At least one of them was raped with a -- with a knife.

It was extremely brutal and bloody.

-[ Speaking native language ] -Morsi's government did nothing.

No one from the Armed Forces investigated the sexual violence that took place during their rule.

Instead, whoever was in authority watched this happen, and they were blaming each other.

Neither of them have done anything to protect women, and women's bodies became just a battlefield, a political battlefield.

[ Chatter, woman screaming ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -A year ago, Morsi won 51% of the vote.

Now it's claimed that 22 million signatures have been gathered against him.

'Leave! Leave!' they shout, deriding him as autocratic and incompetent, as poverty, unemployment, inflation, and debt all continue to worsen.

-The President's supporters insist he must stay in power.

Brotherhood spokesman warns the group's supporters will not turn the other cheek, and the two camps seem headed inexorably to a violent clash.

♪♪ -[ Speaking native language ] -Millions of people once again taking to the streets.

-Huge, huge crowds in Tahrir Square.

-The military has given the President a major ultimatum.

-Egypt's army announces it will intervene within 48 hours.

-The clock is ticking.

-[ Speaking native language ] -[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -The chief of the constitutional court will assume the presidency.

-You just heard the leader of the Egyptian military, General Al-Sisi, make it official.

The Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is out.

-[ Speaking native language ] [ Crowd chanting ] [ Speaking native language ] -[ Chanting in native language ] -Authorities are increasingly using the word 'terrorism' when describing supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

[ Crowd chanting ] -[ Speaking native language ] -That was an armored police vehicle you just saw thudding to ground, reportedly pushed off a bridge by supporters of Morsi's party, the Muslim Brotherhood.

They are clashing with forces of the interim government, who have opened fire in the streets.

-The Muslim Brotherhood say scores of protesters are dead.

They claim police were shooting to kill.

[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ [ Alarm blaring ] -[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ -[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking native language ] -[ Speaking native language ] [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -We survived Mubarak's rule, SCAF's rule, Morsi's government, and now back to an interim government backed by the army.

And the same activists are being tried and arrested.

-[ Speaking native language ] [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Crowd chanting ] -A people who united to depose a president three years ago could now not be more divided.

On the one side, those who believe the military-backed interim government has saved the revolution.

On the other, those who maintain their hopes of democracy are now being shattered.

-[ Speaking native language ] -Those protesting the military-backed takeover were forcibly dispersed by the police, armed with new laws forbidding unauthorized protest, as well as with tear gas.

[ Speaking native language ] -[ Crying ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Horns honking ] ♪♪ -It's not hard to remember what I wanted during the revolution, because what I wanted then is what I want now -- freedom.

Who doesn't want freedom?

The demands that were chanted sums it all up -- 'Bread, freedom, and social justice' -- including fighting for women's rights specifically.

Of course, I am not as positive as I was once, but no matter who you are, what uniform you're wearing, what you're not wearing, we're gonna fight.

We have rights, and it doesn't matter who's in power.

And we really made a point in the past years.

Hey, we're here.

[ Chuckles ] And we had baby victories.

♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Speaking native language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪