El-Sisi calls for action on sexual assaults

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Jun 2014

A spate of mob sexual assaults against women in Tahrir Square marred celebrations for Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's inauguration

 Eid al-Fitr
In this Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 photo, young Egyptian women are harassed by a large crowd of men and boys in a park during Eid al-Fitr in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has asked Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim to combat the country's sexual assault epidemic.

Six suspects have been detained over mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square on Sunday during celebrations for El-Sisi's inauguration as president.

Three men have also been jailed for committing sexual assaults during celebrations for El-Sisi's election victory last week

Presidential spokesperson Ihab Badawi said the president had honoured senior police officer Mostafa Thabet, who rescued a sexual assault victim in Tahrir Square on Sunday.

A YouTube video emerged on Monday showing a woman being stripped of her clothes and attacked by a number of men in the square.

Several accounts of sexual assault in the iconic square were reported on Sunday night across news websites and satellite channels such as Tahrir and Hayat.

A recent law – the first of its kind – against sexual harassment was passed last week by former interim president Adly Mansour. It imposes stiff punishments on sexual harassers, including a minimum of six months in prison and hefty fines.

Sexual harassment against women is a rampant problem in Egypt. A United Nations survey from last year suggests that over 99 percent of Egyptian women have suffered some form of sexual harassment, from minor incidents to rape.

In April 2012, El-Sisi sparked controversy when he appeared to defend "virginity tests" carried out on 17 women detained by soldiers at an anti-Mubarak protest in Cairo in March 2011.

He said the tests had been carried out "to protect the girls from rape, and the soldiers and officers from accusations of rape."

He later promised to abolish the tests.

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