Egypt’s cabinet approves new anti-sexual harassment law

Ahram Online, Wednesday 7 May 2014

First time a specific law targeting sexual harrassment is passed in Egypt, with punishments now including prison sentences, fines or both

sexual harassment
Egyptian women complain of sexual harrassment on a daily basis (Photo: AP)

Egypt’s cabinet approved on Wednesday a new anti-sexual harassment law, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported.

The cabinet had amended the law and sent it to the justice ministry for revision last month. The justice minister then revised it and sent it back to the government for final approval.

Previously, there had not been a specific law proscribing sexual harassment in Egypt. However, three articles in the penal code were sometimes applied in cases of sexual harassment.

The new draft states that a sexual harasser is one who "accosts others in a public or private place through following or stalking them, using gestures or words or through modern means of communication or in any other means through actions that carry sexual or pornographic hints."

The new law punishes sexual harassment with a prison sentence, a fine or both.

Sexual harassment has been a growing problem in Egypt in the past 10 years.

Out of hundreds of women surveyed, more than 99 percent across seven of the country's 27 governorates reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment, ranging from minor harassment to rape, according to an April 2013 report by the United Nations along with Egypt's Demographic Centre and the National Planning Institute.

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