Egypt PM orders Police to instate sexual harassment hotline

Ahram Online , Thursday 28 Mar 2013

Egyptian PM Hisham Qandil orders Interior Ministry to establish sexual harassment hotline to receive reports of the widespread issue

Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has ordered the Interior Ministry to set up a hotline for sexual harassment reports.

Qandil instructed the ministry to have female officers answer the phone to make the caller comfortable when relaying her account, stressing that psychological assistance should be provided.

Sexual harassment has become a rampant practice in Egypt, most recently manifested by mob sexual assaults at protest sites, such as the iconic Tahrir Square in Downtown Cairo.

Many political activists accused the government of orchestrating the attacks or being complacent of them in an attempt to intimidate women from protesting.

According to a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR), service workers, housewives and professionals alike all report experiencing sexual harassment. The most common form is inappropriate touching (40% of all respondents), followed by verbal harassment (38%). Additionally, for 30% of respondents, harassment was a daily struggle.

Only 12% of respondents approached police when harassed, expressing a complete lack of confidence in the legal system to protect them from harassers.

On the second anniversary of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH), which works to end group sexual assaults against women in Tahrir Square, reported 19 women were sexually assaulted by groups of men. Six were severely hurt and needed immediate medical attention.

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