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Egypt's new anti-sexual harassment law submitted to cabinet
Filling a gap in existing law, new provisions criminalising sexual harassment will be issued by Interim President Adly Mansour 'soon'
Ahram Online, Wednesday 9 Apr 2014
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sexual harassment
File photo: Young Egyptian women are harassed by men on the first day of Eid al-Fitr in Cairo, Egypt Aug. 19, 2012 (Photo: AP)

An amendment to Egypt's existing law on harassment has been revised by the justice ministry's legislative section and sent to the cabinet, aide to the justice minister Ahmed El-Sergany said Wednesday.

The law, which was first submitted to the justice ministry by the cabinet, will be revised for a final time by the cabinet before referring it to the president to formally issue it "soon," El-Sergany said in a press conference in the justice ministry's headquarters.

Earlier, there was no specific law proscribing sexual harassment in Egypt. However, three articles in the penal code were sometimes applied in cases of sexual harassment.

El-Sergany said the new draft law provides, for the first time in Egypt, a definition of sexual harassment. The 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 suggested punishment includes a prison sentence, a fine or both. The prison sentence is a minimum of one year and doesn't exceed 10 years, and the fine is of no less than LE10,000 and doesn't exceed LE20,000.

El-Sergany adds that if the sexual harassment a female suffers comes from someone who is superior, for instance in her place of work or schooling, the prison sentence would be between three to seven years with a fine between LE10,000 to LE20,000.

The draft law also dictates a prison sentence for those who engage in mob sexual harassment not to exceed five years. Mob sexual harassment is defined as an act of sexual harassment on a female from two or more individuals.

The same sentence is given to those who sexually assault females by way of coercion or threat by one person holding a weapon.

The draft law also states that if a harasser previously punished commits sexual harassment within a year after he finishes his initial sentence he would be imprisoned in a maximum security prison for three to 15 years and then put on probation for the same period he was imprisoned for when released.

According to El-Sergany, the issue of sexual harassment was put firmly on the agenda after a female student was sexually attacked by tens of her colleagues for wearing black trousers and a pink sweater on campus.

The woman was surrounded by a group of male students who verbally and physically assaulted her, in addition to trying to strip off her clothes, according to a statement released Monday by the anti-sexual harassment campaign "I Witnessed Harassment."

She then ran to the bathroom and hid until security personnel came to escort her from the campus. The existing penal code used to punish sexual harrasment consists of Article 360 that concerns insults, which can be applied to cat-calling and other forms of verbal harassment on the street. Punishment can range from a fine of LE100 (roughly $17) to one month in prison. 

The second provision, Article 278, applies to "indecent behaviour," including indecent exposure, trailing and stalking, with punishment ranging from a fine to three years in prison.

The third provision, Article 268, concerns "sexual assault," which covers cases of physical sexual abuse, with punishment ranging from three to 15 years in prison. 

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

More than 99 percent of hundreds of women surveyed, 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 UN-Egypt's Demographic Centre and the National Planning Institute.





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Sala Ali
15-05-2014 11:28am
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Thank you
This information is helping me to file a suit of sexual harassment because the police said that verbal assaults did not warrant any punishment. Because of this article I know where I can show them in the Egyptian constitution that this behavior is unacceptable. I am even more encouraged by the upcoming revision. Thank you for publishing this article.
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Dina Farag
05-05-2014 12:49pm
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It's About Time
It's about time something like this was passed. My only question is how it will be implemented? How will women let the authorities know about the harassment, especially if it's just a random stranger that does it? If it's followed through, it will be a very good law and will "clean up the streets" in a way, but they need to clarify some details like where to go to report it or what the women can do to let people know and more things like that.
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Basma
16-04-2014 08:51pm
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Great words but...
How will this actually be implemented? Should I drag anyone that harasses me to a police station? And what if I call the police? Then what? By the time they get there, the harasser would have been long gone.
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LowFatConundrum
10-04-2014 12:35pm
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Nice in theory...
...but this will only work if it's backed up by surveillance cameras everywhere with facial recognition capabilities, also the offenders' bio-data should be published everywhere, online and offline. A database needs to be setup to track and prosecute the millions of offenders out there - if you're going to do something, do it right, don't half-ass it, otherwise history will repeat itself and every offender will try to weasel out of being reprimanded, as is most often the case in any crime, not just sexual harassment. Women deserve the right to exist and go about their daily business without being subjected to the numerous deviant lowlifes out there, which happens every single day.
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Nuqta
10-04-2014 10:33am
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Finally...
Finally they are making a law...now the only question is who is going to follow it and how can it be secured that the police will not harass the victim too or blame her even? I speak out of experience with being harassed by police!!! :(
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frishibly
10-04-2014 09:31am
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no chance
Immoral and unconstitutional country. this country don't know democracy and human rights. egypt want real revolution. other than egypt has no future.
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neal
10-04-2014 09:14am
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sexual harassment is gender neutral
This article does not cover the rarer forms of sexual harassment such as women harassing men or sending unwanted "sexting" messages. Is that an oversight of the article or an oversight of the law?
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LowFatConundrum
17-04-2014 09:31am
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This...
...sir is an oversight of your highly flawed logic, for every single - and extremely rare - incident of a woman harassing a man, there are 10,000 incidents of men harassing women.
LowFatConundrum
17-04-2014 09:28am
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This is an oversight...
...of your flawed logic, for every single, and extremely rare incident of a

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