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Anti-sexual harassment initiative intervenes in 35 incidents during Eid

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Volunteers intervened to prevent sexual harassment and provide awareness on the risks of sexual crime

Protesters gather outside the Opera House on Saturday to demonstrate against sexual harassment and assault. (Photo by Aaron T Rose)

Protesters gather outside the Opera House in June to demonstrate against sexual harassment and assault.
(Photo by Aaron T Rose)

Anti-sexual harassment initiative Shoft Taharosh (I Saw Harassment) said the percentage of female rejection of sexual harassment has increased, after working on the ground for the three days of Eid Al-Fitr.

The initiative said in its final report on the Eid period that it has intervened in 35 incidents of sexual harassment, preventing them or rescuing the victim. Volunteers from the initiative were on the streets in Downtown Cairo and Kafr El-Sheikh governorate throughout the three days of Eid, Monday to Wedensday, providing awareness on the risks of sexual crime.

The group noted a significant increase in the percentage of girls and women who believe in defending themselves and that the perpetrator must be punished, compared to previous Eid holidays in 2012 and 2013.

On the other hand, the group said the male position on the issue remained the same, with the “majority of men holding women responsible for sexual harassment”.

Eid holidays in the past few years have witnessed increased levels of sexual harassment, especially in Downtown Cairo. This is the first Eid after amendments were made to the law to punish “sexual harassers”.

In one of his last decisions in office, former interim president Adly Mansour amended the penal code to include the term “sexual harassment”. Shoft Taharosh said the decision was issued in haste and its implementation is assigned to “members of the executive authority who do not care for it that much, amid their preoccupation with the war on terror”.

The amended law punishes “sexual harassers” who verbally or physically engage in any sexual or obscene sign, in public or in private, or through wireless media.  Shoft Taharosh members surveyed 200 women on the amended law and a little over half of them, only 104, were aware of the law.

Egypt’s women’s rights organisations have long been calling for laws to address the proliferating phenomenon of sexual harassment.

Shoft Taharosh has been organising campaigns to fight sexual harassment during Eid holidays since October 2012. The group had reported 65 cases of harassment during the four day holiday of Eid Al-Adha in October of 2013.

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