Police were “lazy” and slow to react to incidents of verbal sexual harassment throughout the Sham El-Nessim holiday, the I Saw Harassment initiative said in an official report on Monday. Despite the lack of police action the initiative did not note any major issues of “sexual harassment” throughout the day.
The report came as a result of a campaign that the initiative organised along the Nile Corniche from noon to 7.30pm on Monday to monitor incidents of sexual harassment, conduct surveys, and provide support for women and girls who had been harassed.
The report noted only minor incidents of verbal harassment throughout the day and an absence of group harassment or gang rapes of the sort that had previously occurred on 25 January.
“This confirms that those incidents were not individual cases or social issues but were rather incidents of sexual terrorism deliberately designed to exclude women and girls and scare them from social and political participation,” the report stated.
Though the Corniche was relatively free of harassment, according to I Saw Harassment, anti-sexual harassment initiative Harassmap reported massive group harassment at a Mohamed Mounir concert in Ain Sokhna on Monday evening.
One eyewitness, Mohamed Wahyi, described large groups of men forming rings around girls, grabbing their hair and their bodies and verbally harassing them. Other men in attendance came to their defence which resulted in a large brawl, causing Mounir to cut the concert short after only 45 minutes.
There was minimal private security present at the venue and no police forces that could be seen, Wahyi said.
Such lack of action on the part of security forces to stop crimes of violence against women remains a major problem, I Saw Harassment said in its report.
“Promises from policy makers and representatives of various ministries to deal with crimes of sexual violence and harassment against women and girls do not fit with the current situation,” the report said.
The initiative called for the passing of legislation criminalising sexual violence and demanded that members and officers in the Interior Ministry be made to undergo “psychological reforms” to improve their understanding of gender issues.
Additional reporting by Nouran El-Behairy