A workshop discussing a draft law to protect women from violence was held by the presidency on Tuesday at noon. It is part of President Mohamed Morsi’s initiative to support the rights and freedoms of Egyptian women.
The draft law was prepared by the National Council for Women (NCW). Earlier this week, the NCW handed the draft law to the Cabinet.
The council drafted the bill at the request of Prime Minister Hesham Qandil. The bill proposes a minimum sentence of one year to five years in prison for harassers, along with fines of up to EGP 10,000. Sexual harassment in the workplace would result in a minimum three-year prison sentence and a minimum fine of EGP 10,000.
Sexual harassment incidents during protests soared earlier this year with 19 cases reported on Friday 25 January in Tahrir Square. In a discussion, the Shura Council said that women should not join protests and mingle with men. They added that women must protect themselves before demanding that the Ministry of Interior protects them.
The workshop will also discuss the suggestions of the National Centre for Social and Criminal Research to amend punishment for rapists.
On 24 March, Morsi launched an initiative that aims to expand the role of women and resolve their most pressing challenges. The first group discussion as part of the initiative was held on 1 April and discussed sexual harassment, including legal and social aspects of the issue.
Women’s rights group Fouada Watch described the women’s initiative as “empty” and said the president’s view of women was outdated.