File Photo: Egyptian parliament. Al-Ahram
According to the amendment, drafted by MP and businessman Mohamed El-Sallab and provisionally approved by the House on 4 October, a new article will be added to a 2018 law on the rights of disabled persons.
The new article states that those convicted of bullying a disabled person will be sentenced to one year in prison and a fine ranging from EGP 50,000 to EGP 100,000. If bullying is committed by one of the victim's relatives, or one of those responsible for his care or upbringing, or those who have authority over him, the penalty can be increased to up to two years in prison and a fine ranging between EGP 100,000 and EGP 200,000.
Penalties can be doubled for repeat offenders.
Ibrahim El-Heneidi, chairman of the House's legislative and constitutional affairs committee, said the new amendment goes in line with articles 53, 80, 81 of the constitution and 309 of the penal code, all of which state that the government shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and educational rights of persons with disabilities.
El-Heneidi said the act of bullying is a crime that should be condemned by society.
"Bullying involves aggressive practices and behavior and it takes different forms such as physical assault or verbal insults and all lead to negatively affecting society, exacerbating psychological and health troubles, and increasing depression and suicide cases," said Heneidi.
MP El-Sallab said many of his friends are disabled persons.
"When I meet them, they always complain that bullying is the number one problem they face," said El-Sallab, adding that "on social media, we can also see hundreds of heartbreaking scenes showing disabled persons facing bullying."
"I think it is important that while Egypt is moving towards a new republic we should make sure that disabled persons live a decent life free from bullying," said El-Sallab, expressing hope that "the legislative amendment represents an initial step on the road of eliminating bullying against disabled persons."