Tourism Min. regards lewd hand gestures as sexual harassment
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Legal advisor of the Ministry of Tourism Sherif Ismail drafted a legal memorandum that includes a list of proposed indecent acts that should fall within perceived as harassment crimes, he said Friday according to Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper.

He said the proposed indecent acts are not criminalized in Egypt’s current penal code.

“Gender-based insults or remarks and lewd hand gestures are included,” Ismail said, adding the memorandum would be revised by members of the Ministry of Justice’s legislation department.

“If approved, the Cabinet will amend it and refer it to the president to issue the new law,” said Ismail.

The action comes following the alleged rape of a British holidaymaker in Sharm Al-Sheikh, Ministry spokesperson Rasha el-Azzayzi said in a Sunday statement.

Chancellor Said Abdel Wahab, head of Heliopolis Appeal Court, told The Cairo Post on Friday that sexual harassment is a crime not precisely defined in the penal code and the list of acts proposed by the ministry are controversial.

“Proving a gender-based insult or hand gesture seems impossible unless the victim taped or took a photo of the action,” Abdel Wahab said, who expected that the said memorandum would most likely be rejected by the legislation department of the Ministry of Justice.

The differences between the Western and the Egyptian cultures cause such inappropriate behavior, head of the technical office of Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Mahfouz Ali told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“While acts such as leering and ogling are common in Egypt, they are regarded as sexual harassment crimes in western countries,” Ali said. The ministry plans to develop a ‘black list’ for tourism employees that committed sexual harassment.

“Employees in the black list will not be allowed to work in the field of tourism,” he added.

Sexual harassment is a relative act, Mahmoud Ezz El Din, owner of Al Gawhara gift shop at Nema Bay touristic market at Sharm Al Sheikh, said.

“I have been working in this gift shop for over 15 years and I dealt with several customers all over the world, many women love to be flirted while walking in the market and few will be annoyed if Egyptian people even looked at them improperly,” Ezz El Din said, who wondered how this law will be applied.

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