Egyptian women's council offers sex harassment hotline for Eid holiday

Ahram Online, Thursday 2 Oct 2014

Hotline will work with police to respond quickly to sexual harrassment incidents, prevalent during Eid holidays

Mervat El-Tallawy
Mervat El-Tallawy (Photo:Ahram)

Egypt's state council for women said Thursday it will specify a hotline for females to report cases of sexual assault during the Islamic feast of Eid Al-Adha, which starts on Saturday.

The hotline will operate from 10am to 10pm during the four days of the Eid holiday.

Mervat El-Talawy, head of the National Council for Women, said the council will collaborate with the police's department of combating violence against women to quickly interfere in cases of harassment and to arrest harassers.

Egypt has long suffered from sexual harassment, a problem that has gone unreported and hasn't been tackled for years. Eid celebrations usually witness the worst cases of sexual violence, with large numbers of young men on the streets.

In 2006, several girls were brutally harassed and stripped of their clothes by a mob in downtown Cairo for Eid Al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.

The event played a major role in bringing the issue of harassment in Egypt to light.

A United Nations survey from last year said that over 99 percent of Egyptian women have been exposed to some kind of harassment, from minor incidents to rape.

Campaigners have also reported dozens of incidents of mob sexual assaults and rapes during public gatherings since 2011, and have complained of a failure by authorities to respond to the spread of assaults.

Until May, there was no specific law banning sexual harassment in Egypt – three articles in the penal code were sometimes applied instead.

But in recent months authorities have passed a new anti-sexual harassment law and sentenced assailants to lengthy jail terms.

The law punishes sexual harassment with a prison sentence, a fine or both.

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