Egypt is the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, according to a poll of gender experts which found high levels of sexual harassment and female genital mutilation as well as an increase in violence and Islamist sentiment following the 2011 revolution.
Hopes that the Arab Spring would improve the lot of women in Egypt have not only been confounded, their situation has in fact worsened, the survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation suggested. It cited instability and conflict in the country as well as the rise of Islamist groups in many areas as some of the reasons for that deterioration. Discriminatory laws as well as a surge in trafficking had also had a negative impact, experts said.
"We removed the Mubarak from our presidential palace but we still have to remove the Mubarak who lives in our minds and in our bedrooms," Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy said, referring to Egypt's ousted military ruler, Hosni Mubarak.
"As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who've ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women."
Iraq came in as the second worst Arab nation for women's rights, with the Middle Eastern country now more dangerous for females than it was under toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, the study indicated.
Both outstripped Saudi Arabia, the Gulf state notorious for repressive attitudes towards women under its strict Wahabi Islamic law. It came in as the third worst country for women, followed by Syria and Yemen.
Syria has in the past been known for its relatively liberal attitudes towards women, particularly in major cities such as Damascus, but the surge in Islamist groups there and the introduction of Sharia law in some regions now controlled by hardline militants have rolled back progress in the field of gender equality.
The civil conflict had also seen government forces rape and torture women, according to rights groups, while displaced women in refugee camps were left vulnerable to trafficking, forced and child marriage and sexual violence.
"The Syrian woman is a weapon of war, subjected to abductions and rape by the regime and other groups," a Syrian women's rights campaigner said.
The poll assessed violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman's role in politics and the economy.
The best Arab country to be a woman was Comoros, the tiny island nation off the east coast of Africa. There, women hold 20 percent of ministerial positions and wives are generally able to retain property after divorce.
Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar ranked the most highly after the small Indian Ocean state.
The poll surveyed 336 gender experts in August and September in 21 Arab League states and Syria, which was suspended from the organisation in 2011.
Questions were based on provisions of the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which 19 Arab states have signed or ratified. Experts were asked to give ratings on factors affecting women's rights, which in turn produced the rankings.
Egypt scored badly in almost all categories as activists said the post-revolutionary rise of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and election of Mohamed Morsi had set back women's rights.
Hopes for greater freedoms following the ousting of Mr Morsi by the army in June have been dampened by the everyday dangers for women on the street, experts said.
In April, a UN report found that 99.3 per cent of women and girls are subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt, which experts attributed to a general rise in gender-based violence in the past few years.
Human Rights Watch reported that 91 women were raped or sexually assaulted in public in Tahrir Square in June as protests against Mr Morsi intensified.
"The social acceptability of everyday sexual harassment affects every woman in Egypt regardless of age, professional or socio-economic background, marriage status, dress or behaviour," said Noora Flinkman, communications manager at HarassMap, a Cairo-based rights group that campaigns against harassment.
"It limits women's participation in public life. It affects their safety and security, their sense of worth, self-confidence and health."
Respondents also cited high rates of forced marriage and trafficking.
"There are whole villages on the outskirts of Cairo and elsewhere where the bulk of economic activity is based on trafficking in women and forced marriages," said Zahra Radwan, Middle East and North Africa programme officer for the Global Fund for Women, a US-based rights group.
Female genital mutilation is endemic in Egypt, where 91 percent of women and girls - 27.2 million in all - are subjected to cutting, according to UNICEF.
In Iraq, women's freedoms have regressed since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the poll showed, as a decade of insecurity and conflict affected women disproportionately. The study painted a grim picture for females with domestic abuse and prostitution on the rise and illiteracy soaring, according to Refugees International.
Experts noted some small advances in Saudi Arabia, which, while it remains the only country to prohibit female driving, has seen some cautious reforms to allow women more employment opportunities and a greater presence in public life.
Since January, 30 women have been appointed to the150-member Shoura Council, the nearest thing Saudi Arabia has to a parliament - though the body has no legislative or budgetary powers.