Over 200 sexual harassment incidents reported during Eid: Group

Ahram Online , Wednesday 8 Oct 2014

I Saw Harassment group says police exerted commendable efforts but more needs to be done; demands society as a whole confront sexism and ministry of interior recruit more women officers

An Egyptian youth, trailed by his friends, grabs a woman crossing the street with her friends in Cairo (File Photo: AP)

More than 200 incidents of sexual harassment were documented in central Cairo and in a Nile Delta city during the Eid Al-Adha holiday, an independent anti-sexual harassment group has said.

Some 188 of the attacks the I Saw Harassment group has recorded were verbal, the group said in a Wednesday report.

The group's four-day Eid holiday operations in Cairo and the Nile Delta were coordinated with the ministry of interior and ended on Tuesday.

Police from the interior ministry's department for combatting violence against women were very visible on the streets on the first day of Eid but were noticeably absent through the rest of the holiday, the group said.

Sexual harassment of women in public places is widespread in Egypt while group sexual assaults are often reported at demonstrations or during major holidays.

Public outrage over a mob sexual assault in downtown Cairo during celebrations of president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi election victory in June prompted the government to create penalties against sexual harassment with a new law punishing attackers with at least six months in jail or fines of no less than LE3,000 ($420).

Several defendants have been convicted of sexually harassing women in recent months under the new penalties, with some sentenced to 25 years in jail for aggravated sexual assault.

Physical assaults however were still recorded during the recent holiday. Twenty such attacks were documented by the group in both areas, as well as another six "mass" assaults.

In one incident, dozens of teenagers and minors encircled three girls on a bridge in downtown Cairo and molested them en masse before volunteers intervened and escorted the girls to a police station.

Volunteers were attacked in another incident by a group of young people wielding bladed weapons. One of the attackers was caught and handed over to a nearby police officer.

Security sources meanwhile said no physical assaults have been documented during Eid, but said 79 incidents of accosting were reported, according to Al-Ahram daily.

According to a 2013 report by the United Nations, over 99 percent of Egyptian women have been subjected to some form of sexual harassment or assault.

While the I Saw Harassment report commended the police department on its cooperation in the fight against sexual harrasment, it called on the authorities to conduct a societal debate on more effective ways to combat the crime including confronting widespread language in society which objectifies and demeans women's bodies.

The report also called on the ministry of interior to recruit more women to the Police Academy in order to ensure that a women who file complaints are aided by female police officers in every precinct around the country.

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