Anti-sexual assault protest held in Egypt's Tahrir Square

Ahram Online , Wednesday 11 Jun 2014

The protest was guarded by security forces, including female officers, as tens of demonstrators denounced recent sexual harassment accounts

sexual harassment
Men look at female protesters carrying signs against sexual harassment, after a woman was sexually assaulted by a mob during Sunday's celebrations marking the new president's inauguration, in Tahrir square in Cairo June 11, 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

Tens of Egyptians marched around Tahrir Square on Wednesday afternoon to voice their objection to sexual assault against women in Egypt.

In a relatively new scene, the protesters – mostly women – were surrounded and protected by a number of security forces, including female officers.

The call for the protest came after a series of videos and testimonies surfaced on social networks of incidents of sexual assault that took place during celebrations for the election and inauguration of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi over the weekend.

Nine suspects are in police custody pending investigations into accusations of sexual harassment during subsequent celebrations of El-Sisi's victory.

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

Protesters on Wednesday carried banners reading "harassers must be castrated" and "I am a harasser, I am an animal".

Incidents of mob sexual assaults have become an endemic problem during protests in Tahrir over the last three years. Frequent assaults and a general police absence have left activists to form anti-harassment groups to confront the problem themselves.

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.

Another anti-sexual harassment protest – titled "Walk like an Egyptian Woman" – is also planned for this Saturday in front of Cairo Opera House.

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