Rights center calls for new anti-sexual harassment law

Yasmine Saleh
4 Min Read

CAIRO: The mass sexual harassment that marked the Eid holiday is a result of low presence of police officers and absence of strong deterring laws, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) said in its latest statement, calling for more stringent laws against sexual harassment.

On Oct 2, some 150 young men physically attacked female pedestrians, tearing some of their clothes off on Gameat Al-Dowal Al-Arabiya Street in Mohandiseen. Prosecutor-General announced Monday that men arrested for sexual harassment during the recent Eid holiday will be put on trial on Oct. 13.

The attackers were between 15 and 22 years old.

The center has “warned before against the lack of security forces in this area indicating that it is important for police officials to be present in this street especially during national holidays, when the area gets very crowded.

However, “police officials have played a positive role in catching the suspects, although the police was late to come to the site of the incident, the ECWR statement continued.

Police arrested 38 men while the rest fled the scene. It is reported that 30 of them were released for “lack of evidence while two men, who were caught red-handed, are still in custody.

It was reported later that police forces are still looking for the women who fled the scene in fear, to get their statements and complete the investigation.

According to the ECWR statement, the problem of sexual harassment cases in Egypt lays in the absence of an active criminal law and sufficient police officials stationed in different streets throughout the country.

The only law that pertains to sexual harassment is Law 306, which stipulates a maximum of one year-jail-sentence and/or LE 200-1000 fine for sexual harassment. However, the vague definition of harassment loosens the grip of the law in this regard.

The female victims, the statement continued, do not report harassment incidents due to their “lack of trust in the justice of the current legal system and out of fear to be blamed by the society.

The ECWR asked the People’s Assembly (PA) to come up with a new draft law that would put an end to sexual harassment, a phenomenon increasing with an alarming rate.

Mahmoud Amer, PA member who is also a member in the PA’s Human Rights committee, told Daily News Egypt that he totally agrees with the ECWR proposal of a new and draft law and said that there “is a need to issue a more strict law to deal with sexual harassment crimes

“This is certainly something in the intention of the PA and will be discussed during the coming parliamentary session [that will start next month], especially that this is the second time that such incident was reported to have taken place in the Egyptian streets, Amer added.

Two years ago, and also during Eid Al-Fitr vacation, similar sexual harassment incident was reported to have taken place in down town area, that followed an opening of “Allya Al Tarab Bel Tallatah, a movie staring belly dancer Dina, who was reportedly present at the screening.

However, police officials denied this incident although Egyptian blogs and website displayed videos of it.

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