File photo: An Egyptian girl is watched by tens of soldiers securing the site of Cairo New court in April, 2010 (photo: AP)
Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has ordered a new department formed to combat crimes of violence against women in collaboration with the ministry's department of human rights, a security source told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
The source said the new department will receive complaints of assaults or violence against women and take the needed legal action, especially in cases of mass assault.
Forces of the new department should be present in crowded places, public transportation, festivals, sporting matches and other places where women are especially exposed to assault.
The decision on the new department comes after cases of mass sexual attack in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square during celebrations of the presidency of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. The president himself and his wife visited one of the victims in hospital, where El-Sisi apologised to Egyptian women and vowed to take strong action to confront increasing violence against women.
The security source said the new decision is part of an effort to combat sexual harassment, which has reached epidemic levels in Egyptian society.
A United Nations survey from last year said that over 99 percent of Egyptian women have been exposed to harassment.
Campaigners have also reported dozens of incidents of mob sexual assaults and rapes during public gatherings since 2011, and have complained of a failure of authorities to respond to the spread of assaults.
Earlier last week, a ministerial committee tasked with examining the issue of sexual harassment in Egypt announced a plan to combat the problem, including heavy security presence in public squares and crowded areas.