On June 5, outgoing interim president Adly Mansour issued a decree criminalizing sexual harassment in Egypt. The new law defines “sexual harassment” for the first time in Egyptian history and introduces prison terms and fines to those found guilty of the crime.
This new law follows a sharp rise in sexual attacks on women since the 2011 Egyptian uprisings that toppled the government of President Hosni Mubarek. Politically motivated sexual assaults and mob attacks have been widely reported during political protests. These targeted assaults on women serve to instill fear and discourage the political participation of women.
Journalist and women’s rights activist Hania Moheeb knows about these politically motivated sexual assaults first-hand. She was attacked at a January 2013 protest commemorating the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolution. Since then, she has become an outspoken advocate to end rape and impunity for sexual violence in Egypt. Hania was part of our delegation to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, where she helped launch Survivors United for Action: the first ever global network of sexual violence survivors focused on ending rape and gender violence.
Following reports of sexual assaults during the inauguration celebrations of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi last week, the President instructed the minister of the interior to “take all necessary measures to combat sexual harassment.” Women’s rights activists in Egypt are hopeful that the newly appointed el-Sisi will further the country’s commitment to protecting women’s rights.
Photo courtesy of Daily News Egypt