11 June 2014

Egypt: Sisi Visits Sexually Assaulted Survivor, Apologizes to Egyptian Women

Photo: Ahmed Hamed/Aswat Masriya
Egyptian women protest. The country has been declared the "worst Arab state for women" (file photo).

Cairo — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi personally visited on Wednesday a woman who was sexually assaulted and stripped naked in Tahrir Square on Sunday during his inauguration's celebrations.

"We're sorry, we're sorry, we're not good, don't be sad," Sisi said. In a statement on Tuesday the new president had asked the Interior Ministry to take whatever measures necessary to combat sexual harassment in Egypt.

Egyptian television showed on Wednesday footage of the former army chief greeting the survivor, handing her a bouquet of roses and vowing to punish all those responsible for the incident.

A graphic video of a mob harassing and stripping a woman off her clothes began circulating online late on Sunday, despite last week's decision to enforce harsher punishments on sexual harassers.

"I apologize, and as a state, we will not allow this again. We will take very serious measures. I've come to tell you and all Egyptian women that I'm sorry. I apologize to all of you," the new president said.

A law introduced by former interim President Adli Mansour on Thursday, days before he handed over power to Sisi, stated that sexual harassers shall face imprisonment for at least one year and a fine of at least 3,000 Egyptian pounds (419 US Dollar).

The umbrella of sexual harassment was also extended to include verbal harassment, sexual gestures or harassment through phones or other means of communication.

"Forgive me. God willing, you will recover, become well and get through this," Sisi added, asking "every soldier in Egypt whether from the police or army" to not let this happen again or let it continue.

Soon after state television aired the footage of Sisi apologizing, the president ordered Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to form a ministerial committee that includes representatives from Azhar, the most prestigious Islamic institution, and the Church to confront the reasons behind sexual harassment.

He asked for a national strategy to be formed in collaboration with educational, religious, media and security institutions to confront the epidemic.

Sisi also commissioned all security apparatuses to exert their utmost efforts to solve the problem and stop it from reoccurring.

A prosecutor ordered that six people be detained on Tuesday pending investigations into the case.

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