In June 2014, Egypt’s interim president Aldy Mansour approved a legal amendment criminalising sexual harassment for the first time in modern Egyptian history.
The new law is the result of working groups and workshops organised by over 25 organisations. It was the National Council for Women – an autonomous institution founded by Susan Mubarak, the wife of ousted president Hosni Mubarak – who sent the amendment of the law after consulting with the NGOs.
Although not all of the advice coming from the working groups has been taken into account, sexual harassment is now considered a crime in Egypt and perpetrators face penalties, such as jail terms and fines.
Image credit: Hossam el-Hamalawy / Flickr
If the law is implemented, and accompanied by rising social awareness of gender-based violence, it could help to remove one significant barrier to women in education, employment and public life.
A survey conducted by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in 2013 showed that more than 99% of Egyptian women are harassed on a daily basis, ranging from catcalling in the streets to gang rapes.
More than 250 mass assaults were recorded between February 2013 and January 2014, and over 500 incidents since the uprising in 2011, according to figures compiled by a coalition of advocacy groups.
Egyptian rights groups such as "I saw Harassment" and "Basma" reported sexual assaults and rape cases affecting 91 women in just four days. The victims included children and a 60-year-old woman.
Human Rights Watch (13 July 2014). Egypt: Take Concrete Action to Stop Sexual Harassment, Assault
Al Jazeera (12 June 2014). New law to end sexual harassment in Egypt
Huffington Post (21 January 2015). New Report Paints Devastating Picture Of Violence Against Women In Egypt
The Guardian (6 June 2014). Egypt criminalises sexual harassment for first time