A minibus driver is accused of assaulting and raping a Russian tourist in the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh on Friday night, then leaving the victim and her husband by the side of the road.
While returning from Sohour — the late night Ramadan meal — the driver of the minibus the couple rented from a tour company, allegedly faked car trouble. When the husband got out of the minibus, the driver drove away with the wife still in the vehicle, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
Farther away, the driver is accused of pulling over the minibus and raping the female tourist, and then leaving her on the side of the road.
The driver then allegedly fled to the residential Nour neighbourhood of Sharm El-Sheikh to pack his things to leave town. He was arrested in Nour with a packed bag while attempting to flee the city.
Upon interrogation, the driver confessed to the rape, and was referred to the prosecution. He was initially ordered imprisoned four days pending investigation.
The sexual assault of female tourists in Sharm El-Sheikh and other Red Sea resorts has been a recurring problem. A Dutch woman and a Russian woman both accused hotel workers of sexual assault last spring, and a Russian tourist thwarted an attempted sexual assault by a member of the tourism police.
The Ministry of Tourism announced on 15 March that it had revoked the licences of two hotels, Hilton Sharks Bay 2 and Sharm Holiday in Sharm El-Sheikh and that it was looking into ways for combating the “phenomenon of sexual harassment”.
Last week Germany and Italy lifted travel warnings to the southern Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, while Britain had no formal warning but does advise its citizens to travel cautiously.
Northern Sinai has been a hotbed for militancy and unrest, increasing since the 3 July 2013 ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Most of the attacks in Sinai have targeted security forces, but on 16 February, terrorist group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a bus carrying South Korean tourists stopped at the Taba border crossing into Israel. Three tourists and the Egyptian bus driver were killed, and 17 tourists were injured.
Sexual harassment is not a problem that only plagues tourists. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women published a report in April 2013 indicating the most recent statistics of sexual harassment in Egypt. The study shows that 99.3% of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Speaking to the president of the government-backed National Council for Human Rights last week, newly-elected President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that promoting women’s rights and empowerment is a primary concern of his tenure in office.
The Russian embassy in Cairo was unable to comment at this time, and both the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not return request for comment.