Life sentences for sexual assaults at El-Sisi celebration

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Jul 2014

Egypt sentences nine men to jail terms varying from life imprisonment to 20 years for sexually assaulting women near Cairo's Tahrir Square

sexual harassment incident
File Photo: A young man harasses three women (File Photo: Al-Ahram)

A Cairo criminal court on Wednesday sentenced nine men to lengthy jail terms for sexually assaulting women near Cairo's Tahrir Square.

They are the longest sentences since the authorities criminalised sexual harassment.

The allegations stem from four attacks, three of which took place during celebrations for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi inauguration on 8 June, a judicial source said.

The forth attack took place in 2013 during the second anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, a defence lawyer has said.

Seven men were sentenced to life in jail over charges that included "indecent assaults," and the abducting and robbing of women.

Two others were handed 20-year jail terms. Four defendants received multiple sentences for taking part in several assaults.

The ruling came more than a month after the government issued a law that punishes sexual harassers with at least six months in jail and a minimum fine of LE3,000.

Sexual harassment has been increasingly commonplace in Egypt in recent years, particularly at large gatherings.

In a televised court session, the judge said all the defendants would be placed under police surveillance for five years after they serve their terms and would pay civil compensation of LE10,000-40,000 (nearly $1,400 – 5,600) to the women.

Graphic video footage posted on YouTube last month showed a woman, stripped and badly bruised, being sexually assaulted as police escorted her to an ambulance in Tahrir Square during El-Sisi's inauguration celebrations. The video provoked a huge public outcry, prompting the government to draw up a plan to combat sexual harassment and assault.

Last month, several men were sentenced to between 6 months and one year for harassing women.

Rights groups documented 250 cases of sexual violence against women between November 2012 and January 2014, including mass sexual assaults in the iconic Tahrir Square.

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