Following intensive lobbying by anti-sexual harassment groups, Minister of Interior Ahmed Gamal Al-Dine announced anti-sexual harassment measures. At a meeting with Mervat Al-Talawy, head of the Egyptian National Council for Women, Al-Dine announced the ministry has intensified security patrols especially in front of girls’ schools; a hot spot for harassers.
Al-Dine added harrassers would now be arrested upon a police officer seeing them commit the act, not only in the case of a woman filing a report.
Talawy asked Al-Dine to see to the implementation of a harassment law, proposed by women’s groups, suggesting harsher penalties for harassment crimes.
In another development, 36 women’s rights groups, anti-harassment initiatives, revolutionary groups and political parties organised a peaceful protest and in front of the presidential palace in Heliopolis on Thursday. The event titled “Women of Egypt Day” was organised to draw attention to women’s demands for the constitution.
Around 200 protesters demanded a draft law criminalising any physical sexual or psychological violence against women.
Dina Farid, founder of “Egypt’s Girls are a Red Line” said that her campaign didn’t participate in the protest because they are against harsher laws for harassers.
She said punishment must distinguish between those above and under 18, and that her campaign is in favor of rehabilitation rather than retribution.
“What a law acceptable to the society; harsher penalties can only backfire, girls would be too scared to report and thus the problem would keep growing.”
“We are preparing a full anti-harassment project that deals with the issue from every aspect with help from legal experts and psychologists” Farid said
Farid said when a juvenile is arrested for harassment, the police officer usually keeps him in detention for half an hour and then lets him go because if he is taken to prison he will end up a criminal, “they [harrassers] are usually already suffering enough social injustice.”
She explained that for harassers under 18, “psychological rehabilitation and community service can be more effective than punishment.”
Farid added, “it’s very humiliating for a girl to tell her harassment story to a policeman, we should have policewomen for harassment reports and cases should be examined by the Family Court.”
She added the project would be finalised before the upcoming Eid, because streets are often crowded in this period, so it witnesses the highest rates and worst cases of harassment.