sexual harassment incident (File Photo: Al-Ahram)
An official source at Egypt's forensic authority says that the eight women who were attacked in Tahrir Square during celebrations for the country's newly-elected president were sexually assaulted and not raped, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported on Wednesday.
Hisham Abdel-Hamid, associate to the head of the forensic authority, said that medical examinations showed that the eight girls bore injuries resembling ones from sexual assault – but not rape.
According to Egyptian law, attempted rape with no penetration is considered sexual assault.
One of the women sustained severe burns when, trying to flee from her attacker, she crashed into a tea vendor and was hit with boiling water, Abdel-Hamid said.
DNA samples have been taken from the eight victims and the defendants for further investigation, the official said. A final report will be sent to prosecutors by Wednesday night.
Sunday's celebrations for the inauguration of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi were marred by several accounts of sexual assault in iconic Tahrir Square, including a graphic video of a naked woman with visible bruises on her body being led to an ambulance.
On Tuesday, seven suspects were detained by police on charges of participating in mob sexual assaults that took place in the square. One suspect has since been released without charges
Meanwhile, El-Sisi has asked Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim to combat the country's sexual assault epidemic.
On Wednesday, the new president made a personal visit to one of the sexual assault victims and then made an appearance on national television in which he apologised for her and other Egyptian women who have suffered sexual abuse.
He also promised the victim a state-funded trip to the holy Islamic city of Mecca to help her recover.
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.