Egypt's Prosecutor-General Hamada El-Sawy
Prosecutors in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura are carrying out an extensive investigation into a group sexual assault and harassment incident which occurred on New Year's Eve after two victims identified seven suspects, Al-Ahram Arabic website quoted security sources as saying on Friday.
A video, which appeared to show a group of men surrounding a screaming woman, circulated on social media platforms on Wednesday.
A number of local media outlets said that the incident took place at night on 31 December, after a woman exited a shop and was then assaulted by a mob of young men who ripped some of her clothes off.
Another female victim of the assault reportedly managed to escape into an apartment building before being later escorted from the scene.
Mansoura prosecution said on Wednesday that they were investigating the circumstances surrounding the video.
Police said on Thursday said they had arrested 17 young men who were suspected of taking part in the assault. Police also questioned more than 20 shop owners and workers who were in the area where the assault took place.
Investigations identified the two victims of the assault as students, one of a private engineering institute and the other of the Faculty of Physical Education and Languages, both aged 20 years old, security sources told Al-Ahram Arabic website.
The victims said they did not officially report the incident due to their bad psychological state, security sources said.
They said that they were verbally harassed at first while some attackers were filming the incident, before dozens of young men began grabbing their private parts.
The state of public discontent with the incident prompted security to investigate the incident before an official report of the incident was filed, according to security sources.
The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights has called for more police presence in the streets to ensure the protection of women from sexual harassment, as the crime is not committed against one person, but against the society as a whole, and all women suffer from it.
On Thursday, leading Islamic religious institution Al-Azhar released a statement on Twitter denouncing sexual harassment.
A 2013 UN Women study reported that 96.5 percent of Egyptian women surveyed had been sexually harassed.
In 2014, Egypt passed legislation that introduced tougher punishments for those who commit sexual harassment.
Article 306 of Egypt’s penal code stipulates that those found guilty of sexual harassment in a private or public place will be sentenced to a minimum of six months and up to three years in prison, and fined no less than EGP 3,000.