An Egyptian man was sentenced to two years in prison and fined a further EGP 2,000 for sexually assaulting a woman in Maadi in July. According to the Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the verdict was a small victory.
The incident occurred on 17 July. The victim said she was standing outside a Cilantro on Nasr Street when a man approached her from behind and attacked her. She quickly regained her composure, grabbed the man, and began yelling to draw attention.
The man was taken to a nearby police station and, with the help of an eyewitness, an investigation was launched. On Sunday, the court ordered the victim be given compensation amounting to EGP 10,001, to be paid by the attacker.
The centre praised the Egyptian judiciary for protecting the rights of the woman, and called on prosecutors to respond to “such heinous crimes, which occur almost daily to most girls and women without exception.”
The Nadeem centre’s lawyer who worked on the case was Michael Raouf. He was expecting a better result but said that it was nevertheless satisfying. He explained few cases of this nature actually make it to court. “If a woman files a report, often the police don’t follow up with an investigation or fail to arrest anyone,” he said.
Farah Shash, the Nadeem centre’s psychologist, said she was hopeful things would improve in Egypt over time. She pointed at the growing trend of emerging rights groups defending women both legally and with a physical presence, such as the anti-harassment campaign over Eid Al-Adha. “We are trying to help women by informing them about where to get help for such incidents,” Shash said.
While there are many organisations advocating for women’s rights, Raouf does not see a tangible change coming from the government. “Whatever they are currently doing,” he argued, “is not enough.”
Samira Ibrahim, a woman subjected to virginity tests last year for her involvement in protests, was critical of Egypt’s government and the society, saying everything in Egypt has so far been a “fiasco.”
“In terms of sexual harassment,” Ibrahim said, “the situation is getting worse. Children are growing up thinking it is a way for them to have fun.” She said this phenomenon is on the rise across Egypt and children in primary schools are becoming involved in sexual harassment.
“The government does not want to introduce a law governing sexual harassment and this is very disappointing,” Ibrahim said. She argues a part of the problem is that “the media portrays these [sexual harassment] incidents in a light-hearted manner.”