Egypt: Sexual assault on student sparks outrage

2014-06-10 08:40

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - A string of sexual assaults on women during celebrations of Egypt's presidential inauguration — including a mass attack on a 19-year-old student who was stripped in Cairo's Tahrir Square — prompted outrage on Monday as a video emerged purportedly showing the teenager, bloodied and naked, surrounded by dozens of men.

Seven men were arrested in connection with the assault and police were investigating 27 other complaints of sexual harassment against women during Sunday's rallies by tens of thousands of people celebrating Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's inauguration late into the night, security officials said.

Sexual violence has increasingly plagued large gatherings during the past three years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and women's groups complained Monday that tough new laws have not done enough.

Twenty-nine women's rights groups released a joint statement accusing the government of failing do enough to address the spiralling outbreak of mob attacks on women. The groups said they had documented more than 250 cases of "mass sexual rape and mass sexual assaults" from November 2012 to January 2014.

"Combatting that phenomena requires a comprehensive national strategy," said the statement signed by the women's groups.

Last week, authorities issued a decree declaring sexual harassment a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. The decree amended Egypt's current laws on abuse, which did not criminalize sexual harassment and only vaguely referred to such offenses as "indecent assault".

Organised attacks

Sexual harassment has been one of Egypt's enduring social ills, embedded in the country's patriarchal conservative culture, where women are seen as inferior to men. Movies often portray women as sex objects, leaving them vulnerable to men who feel empowered by the absence of a strong legal deterrent.

Sexual assaults have increased dramatically in ferocity and in number in the three years since Mubarak's ouster, with Tahrir square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising, the site of multiple sexual attacks on women amid the large crowds.

In the latest incident, video footage posted on social media purportedly shows the student completely naked amid a crowd of men, parts of her body bloodied as policemen struggled to escort her out of Tahrir. The video appeared authentic and was consistent with AP reporting of the incident.

Seven men were arrested in connection with the attack on the student, who was hospitalised, said the officials. They did not elaborate on her condition and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The Interior Ministry, in charge of police, identified the seven suspects and gave their ages as between 15 and 49. It said they were arrested for "harassing several girls" but made no mention of the student. A policeman was injured while the seven were being arrested, the ministry added.

Authorities investigating other reports of sexual assaults were examining a dozen videos from security cameras or from bystanders who filmed the incidents on their mobile phones, the officials said.

They said the footage suggested organised attacks, with groups of men luring victims away from densely crowded spots before encircling them as they assaulted them. Many brandished knives which they used to threaten victims or against anyone attempting to come to their rescue.

'Name and shame' campaigns

Further causing an uproar were comments by a TV anchorwoman during a live report from a correspondent covering the Tahrir celebrations. When the correspondent for al-Nahar TV told the anchorwoman there had been several cases of sexual harassment, she laughed and said it's "because they are happy."

The anchor, Maha Bahnassy, denied on Monday that her comment was in response to the harassment incidents.

"I was, along with my guests, commenting on people's joy, not the harassment," she said on her Facebook page.

The anti-sexual harassment decree issued last week amends Egypt's current laws on the abuse. Those convicted face six months to five years in prison, with the maximum punishment reserved for offenders holding positions of power over their victims, such as when the offender is the woman's boss or is armed.

Repeat offenders would see their sentences doubled, the decree said. Along with the maximum five-year sentence, offenders can be fined up to 5 000 Egyptian pounds, or about $714.

Last year, a joint report by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, Egypt's Demographic Centre and the National Planning Institute found that more than 99 percent of hundreds of women surveyed in seven of the country's 27 provinces reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment, ranging from verbal harassment to rape.

The breakdown in security in the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak has left Egypt's streets even more unsafe for women.

Initiatives to counter harassment have multiplied. Volunteer groups started escorting women, especially during political gatherings. Activists offered self-defence classes for women and social networking sites launched "name and shame" campaigns.
- AP
Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  abdel fattah al-sisi  |  hosni mubarak  |  egypt  |  north africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

13 summer safety tips

Summer time and the burning is easy. Get some great tips to ensure sunburn doesn't spoil your holiday!

 
 

I love summer.24

Stay in shape this summer
Ultimate fails compilation 2014
This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays
This man's reaction to his Christmas present is priceless!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are in an innovative mood and may want to break out and do your own thing today. The Moon moves into Aries which emphasizes...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.