Egypt's parliament toughens penalties for sexual harassment, bullying

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 12 Nov 2023

Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – gave final approval Sunday to new government-drafted amendments to the penal code toughening penalties for sexual harassment and bullying crimes.

File photo of the Egyptian Parliament (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)
File photo of the Egyptian Parliament (Photo: Khaled Mashaal)


An explanatory note accompanying the draft law highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment and bullying in Egypt.

"These two crimes go against human rights and represent a form of violence against women and children in society," said the note.

It added that “the number of sexual harassment crimes against women at workplaces and on public transportation has increased in recent years and hence there is a pressing need for a legislative amendment to toughen penalties for these crimes."

According to the draft law, Article 306(A) of the penal code will be amended to punish four different forms of harassment (physical, verbal, visual, and online) with up to four years in prison and a fine of up to EGP 200,000.

The penalty will be toughened to five years in prison and a fine of up to EGP 300,000 if the crime is committed at a workplace or on transportation and if the offender is holding a weapon.

Furthermore, the draft proposes amendments to Article 309(B) of the penal code to penalize those harassing victims who are relatives, under their custody, or serving them, with up to one year in prison and a fine of up to EGP 100,000.

Speaker of the Parliament Hanafy El-Gebaly emphasized that "it is not enough to increase penalties for harassment and bullying; it is very important that the media play an active role in raising public awareness regarding the detrimental physical and psychological impact of these crimes."

Ali Gomaa, chairman of parliament's religious affairs committee, said: "The amendments go in line with Islam which gives protection to women against all forms of violence and aggression."

"In this respect, it is very important for clerics to preach that harassment is a crime against all religions and that those who commit it should be punished," said Gomaa.

MP Hala Abul-Saad said the amendments, which were drafted by the National Council for Women, show that harassment has become increasingly dangerous in the last couple of years, and the risk of harassment increases in transportation, at home, on the street, and in the workplace

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