The outfit of the girl who was sexually attacked inside Cairo University was a little out of the ordinary but that does not justify the behaviour of attackers, said Cairo University President Gaber Nassar in a phone interview.
Speaking to private channel ONTV, Nassar said that the female student who was assaulted by dozens of fellow students was in fact wearing an abaya, a full length garment covering the entire body, when she entered through the university gates but she took it off inside.
“The mistake of the female student does not justify what happened from the other students,” he said.
Nassar said the university has no uniform but clothes must conform to the customs and traditions of society.
“University security does not allow students to enter the university in clothes that are out of the ordinary,” Nassar said, adding that if a student is wearing such attire, security asks them to go home and change their clothes.
Anti-sexual violence group I Saw Harassment (Shoft Taharosh) said the woman was physically and verbally assaulted and had to be escorted off campus by security officials. During and after the incident, the perpetrators reportedly filmed the victim with their mobile phones. The incident occurred outside the Faculty of Law.
Nassar said that incident was recorded by the university’s cameras and is currently being investigated, and whether it is the female or male students, they will receive their redress. He said they may even be suspended from the university, adding “we will not be complacent in facing this.”
Nassar said the students involved in the incident are being summoned for administrative investigation, and if any are proven to be involved in criminal behaviour, they may be investigated by the prosecution.
On Monday, I Saw Harassment called on the Ministry of Higher Education and university presidents to facilitate the work of the group inside universities. The group also called on university security to assist the group’s volunteers in organizing awareness campaigns on the dangers of sexual harassment and the need to address it.
I Saw Harassment is one of many anti-sexual violence groups that have sprung up in recent years to confront widespread sexual harassment, and challenge general indifference on the part of police and the general Egyptian public towards the plight of survivors of sexual abuse.
According to a UN report issued last year an overwhelming majority of Egyptian women (99.3%) have experienced some sort of sexual harassment, and 96.5% of women had been sexually assaulted in some way.