Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

Egypt: Movement Urges Interior Ministry to Put an End to Sexual Harassment

A number of civil groups launched an initiative to monitor President Mohamed Mursi's role in women rights issues, urging him to swiftly intervene and put an end to the widespread epidemic of sexual harassment in Egypt.

The initiative, known as "Fouada Watch", urged the interior ministry to carry on its responsibility, as an institution to apply the law, to scatter security forces in the streets of Egypt to stop sexual harassers and outlaws.

A report issued by the movement yesterday argued that the widespread religiosity in Egypt is superficial and is really only parallel to a decline in the morals and principles of the society.

The report considered statements made by Omayma Kamel, the president's assistant for women issues, disappointing and degrading to women.

The report stated that in a period of one month alone, the initiative has received 53 reports from women from the ages of 18 to 25 of an average of two cases of sexual harassment per day. This, in addition to cases that were not reported.

The report suggested that downtown Cairo was the most popular place for sexual harassment, particularly during Eid (Islamic feast following the fasting month of Ramadan), especially Talaat Harb Street.

The report indicated that cases of verbal and sexual harassment during Eid were particularly high by the Nile Corniche despite some security presence.

Security forces were able to disperse groups of harassers and arrest a number of perpetrators.

However, the perpetrators were charged with cases such as public display of affection which in fact holds the women as responsible as their harassers - as public display of affection suggests the consent of both parties.

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