Court to rule on Tahrir sexual assault detainees on 16 July

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Thursday 10 Jul 2014

The seven defendants are accused of sexually assaulting women in Tahrir Square during celebrations for Egypt's new president

Sexual harassment incident (File Photo: Al-Ahram)

Cairo's criminal court has set 16 July to announce the final verdict on seven suspects charged with participation in mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square during celebrations last month for the inauguration of Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The court sessions are currently taking place in private rooms.

The sexual assault incidents drew widespread attention and galvanised officials into taking tougher actions towards the offenders.

The new president made a personal visit to one of the sexual assault victims in the hospital and then made an appearance on national television in which he apologised for her and other Egyptian women who have suffered sexual abuse.

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

A law against sexual harassment – the first of its kind – was passed in May 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 – then defence minister – sparked controversy when he appeared to defend "virginity tests" carried out on 17 women detained by soldiers at an anti-Hosni 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.

Short link: