Two Egyptian men referred to trial on sexual harassment charges

Ahram Online, Saturday 14 Jun 2014

The two men are charged under a new law, passed last week, which criminalises sexual harassment

The east Cairo prosecution office referred two defendants to an urgent trial to face Nasr City's misdemeanour court on Sunday on charges of sexual harassment.

The defendants allegedly sexually assaulted two girls while they were walking through Heliopolis's Al-Khalifa Al-Mamoun Street on Wednesday. The two girls asked for the help of a police officer who happened to be in the area. The defendants then attacked the officer.

According to prosecution statements, local residents then interfered and managed to assist in the capture of the two defendants.

The prosecution charged the offenders with attacking a police officer while doing his job and sexual harassment, which was criminalised for the first time in a law issued last week. Women’s rights groups have hailed the move as a positive step, but many have called for further legal reforms that would widen the definitions of rape and sexual assault.

Egyptian women have long complained of rising levels of sexual harassment and assault.A United Nations survey from last year suggests that over 99 percent of Egyptian women have suffered some form of sexual harassment, including verbal and physical harassment.

A number of serious sexual assaults were also reported in Tahrir Square last week during celebrations of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's inauguration on 8 June.

One apparent mob sexual assault was captured on video and uploaded onto social media sites, causing widespread public outcry. The video showed a naked and bruised woman at the centre of a mob.

Both El-Sisi and his wife, Intissar Amer, visited the woman in hospital last week. She was shown being lifted into an ambulance in the video.

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