Harassments’ Law in demand!

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 The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) is saddened by the harassment incident that took place on the second day of the Eid El Fitr holiday. A group of young people harassed women and girls who were walking in Game’t El Dowal El Arabia Street in Mohandssin, Giza. ECWR is interested in following up with the investigations of the incident and the accused who have been arrested.


In the absence of security forces and policemen, over 100 young men aggressively harassed women and girls, as some newspapers reported. Only 38 were arrested and transferred to the DA in Agouza, Cairo, where they are being held in detention until the end of investigations. 


ECWR wishes to highlight the importance of deploying security forces early, especially during holidays, in order to be able to control and confront what came to be called “Collective Harassment during the Holiday.”


Even though security forces were completely absent when the harassment broke out and arrived late, they did play a positive role arresting the harassers. This is a good step from the Ministry of Interior, but we wish to progress towards a reliable mechanism for securing our streets and ensuring everyone’s right to physical safety. The right to public safety and physical freedom is a basic right guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and international agreements. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." Alongside with numerous other human rights treaties, this supports the idea of a right to privacy and security, which ought to be guaranteed by the state. 


With the absence of a law prohibiting harassment and a security force protecting people, providing secure streets and enforcing the right to privacy, the problem is aggravated. Thus the need for protection and security makes the need for a legislative intervention appear even clearer.


Even though sexual harassment is considered a recent crime in Egyptian society, the Egyptian criminal code lacks the precise definition of sexual harassment. Reporting Sexual Harassments falls under article 306 of the Penal Code, which states that "any person offending the modesty of a woman whether verbally or physically, shall be punished either by imprisonment of up to one year or a fine that’s not less than 200 L.E. and not more than 1000 L.E., or both.

This article lacks the precise definition of the concept of sexual harassment, which ECWR defines as "unwanted sexual conduct deliberately perpetrated by the harasser, resulting in sexual, physical, or psychological abuse of the victim regardless of location, whether in the workplace, the street, public transportation, educational institution, or even in private places such as home or in the company of others such as relatives or colleagues, etc.”


The sexual harassment incident described above makes it very clear that due to the current legal situation, sexual harassment is not dealt with by the law, but actually avoided by the legislation. Not addressing this problem leads to total injustice, especially since victims often hesitate to report incidents for lack of confidence in the legal system or fear of being blamed herself. Those reasons were clearly stated in ECWR’s study on sexual harassment, "Clouds in Egypt’s Sky."


We encourage victims to report incidents and therefore deprive criminals of the chance to escape justice and a fair trial. We also hope that the MPs will put the Sexual Harassment Law bill on the top of their priorities for this year’s parliamentary session.


ECWR encourages the cooperation of all stakeholders and civil society institutions to support its campaign against sexual harassment "Making Egypt’s Streets Safe for Everyone," and work together towards reducing harassment in our streets.


Progress can already be made by raising the number of reported incidents and reforming the status of the victim in society. These changes themselves could help bring such crimes to court and establish justice.  


For more information please contact:


The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights

135 Misr-Helwan El Zeraay
2nd Floor, Suite 3
Hadayak El Maadi, Cairo

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