Egyptians celebrate first day of Eid El-Fitr with prayers, social visits

Ahram Online , Sunday 25 Jun 2017

Interior ministry and National Council for Women ready to respond to incidents of sexual harassment

Girl reflects as worshipers pray perform Eid Al-Adha prayers at Amr Ibn Al-Aas mosque in Old Cairo, Egypt, September 24, 2015. (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Egyptians celebrated Eid El-Fitr on Sunday, with prayers held across the country, followed by festivities and social gatherings.

Eid El-Fitr, which lasts for three days, is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Millions of Egyptian Muslims took part in the Eid prayers shortly after dawn in the areas allocated by the Ministry of Religious Endowments in various governorates, amid tight security and regulatory procedures, state news agency MENA reported.

Egyptians often celebrate the feast with social visits and outings to gardens, shopping malls or amusement parks.

Warm weather was predicted across the country on the first day of Eid, with Cairo at 37 degrees Celsius by day and 24 degrees at night, Egypt’s Meteorological Authority announced. Slightly lower temperatures were predicted for the north coast and very high temperatures in southern Upper Egypt. Similar temperatures were expected for Monday.

Egypt's National Council for Women (NCW) is launching a 24-hour operation room to receive complaints of sexual harassment and offer legal aid to victims during Eid El-Fitr.

The holiday normally witnesses a surge in reported cases of sexual harassment. Typical scenarios involve groups of men, typically youths, verbally and physically assualting women and girls on the street.

In general, the majority of Egyptian women report suffering some form of street harassment on a daily basis, according to UN figures.

During the Eid holiday, NCW lawyers will do field visits and escort police personnel during security campaigns, reporting on any incidents in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior's Violence Against Women unit, the official body said in a statement last week.

The NCW’s ombudsman provides specialized lawyers and social workers to assist women and girls who have been subjected to violence, with social and legal support given in cases involving a prosecution.

The council is ready to receive complaints during the holiday at the following hotlines: 15115, 01007525600, or by email at [email protected].

In recent years, the interior ministry has deployed female police officers to the streets during Eid to confront sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment was first criminalised in Egypt in 2014, with violators facing minimum jail terms of six months and/or fines of EGP 3,000 to EGP 5,000.

Harassment is defined in the law as using physical, verbal or electronic communication, or any other action, that carries sexual or pornographic connotations.

Public-sector employees in ministries, governmental authorities, and other state-owned institutions will take three days off work for the holiday. Private-sector employees will take the first two days off as a paid holiday, the government announced last week.

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