El-Sissi to crack down on sexual harassment
CAIRO: Egypt’s new president ordered a crackdown on sexual harassment Tuesday after a string of assaults against women celebrating his inauguration cast a glaring spotlight on one of the nation’s most troubling social ills.
Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi also called for the decisive implementation of a new law that makes sexual harassment punishable by up to five years in prison, a presidential spokesman said.
Several women were assaulted during Sunday’s inaugural festivities — including a mass attack on a 19-year-old student and her mother in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Video emerged that purportedly showed the teenager, bloodied and naked, surrounded by dozens of men.
El-Sissi described sexual harassment as an “alien phenomenon” in Egypt and called for the restoration of the “real and moral” values of the country’s streets, his spokesman Ehab Badawi said in a statement.
The president instructed Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of police, to do whatever it takes to bring the situation under control, and to honor a policeman who came to the teenager’s rescue.
The Interior Ministry has arrested seven suspects ages 15 to 49 in connection with the sexual harassment that occurred during Sunday’s celebrations.
Three of those men have been charged with sexual assault under the threat of force and attempted rape, according to the nation’s chief prosecutor, Hesham Barakat. A statement from his office said they would immediately be put on trial.
The statement also gave graphic details of the attack, saying the attackers first formed a circle around the two, stripped the mother of her clothes and assaulted her. Later, the mother fell on a bowl of hot water used by a tea maker at the square, sustaining burns on 25 percent of her body.
It said the attackers later turned their attention to the daughter but could not do the same to her because police intervened. The statement did not say whether the daughter was also stripped and assaulted.
Authorities also were examining a dozen videos from security cameras or bystanders who filmed sexual assaults on their cellphones, according to security officials.