Egyptian police arrest 29 men for sexual harassment during Eid: MOI

Ahram Online , Saturday 18 Jul 2015

Local anti-harassment group says its members intervened in dozens of harassment incidents

Volunteers of anti-sexual harassment Shoft Taharosh (I saw harassment) group on the streets in downtown Cairo on 17 July 2015. (Photo courtesy of Shoft Taharosh official Facebook page)

Police in Cairo have arrested 29 men for sexual harassment since the beginning of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday on Friday, Al-Ahram Arabic reported.

Police said one man was arrested for physically harassing a woman in downtown Cairo's Qasr El-Nil area, while others were caught verbally harassing girls outside cinemas in the Roxy area in the district of Heliopolis.

During the three-day Eid Al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan, families and young people often celebrate with outings to parks, cinemas, fairs and other public spaces.

Reports of sexual harassment and assault in crowded areas increase during the holiday.

Sexual harassment, which affects 99 percent of Egyptian women according to a 2013 UN study, usually increases in crowded areas during holidays.

In Egypt, the term “harassment” is typically used to refer to both verbal and physical sexual harassment in public places.

The anti-sexual harassment initiative Shoft Taharosh ("I Saw Harassment") said that its members, who work to monitor harassment in public areas, prevented two incidents of mass physical sexual harassment in downtown Cairo and "intervened" in 44 individual physical harassment and 33 verbal harassment incidents. 

In a statement on Friday, the group said it had witnessed strong police presence only in certain places in the centre of Cairo, leaving other hot spots in the capital, like Qasr El-Nil bridge, unprotected. It also reported that police presence was heavier in the morning and the late afternoon. 

The statement said that few people were on the streets compared to last year's festival, and fewer women than men were present outside cinemas. 

Female police officers have been deployed on the streets to confront sexual harassment during Eid. 

Sexual harassment was criminalised in 2014. The law imposes jail terms of no less than six months, and/or fines of LE3,000 to LE5,000 ($419 to $700) on those who are found guilty of sexual harassment in public or private areas. 

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