Sexual assaults in Egypt stir outrage

Sexual assaults in Egypt stir outrage

CAIRO - The Associated Press
Sexual assaults in Egypt stir outrage

Supporters of President el-Sisi celebrate his inauguration in Tahrir Square. The square has become the site of multiple sexual attacks in recent years.

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 - have prompted outrage 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 rallies on June 8 by tens of thousands of people celebrating Abdel-Fattah el-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 Hosni Mubarak, and women’s groups complained June 9 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 spiraling 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.

‘Comprehensive national strategy needed’

“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.”

Sexual assaults have increased dramatically in ferocity and in number in the three years since Mubarak’s ouster. 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 Interior Ministry identified the seven suspects and gave their ages as between 15 and 49.