CAIRO: Two men were arrested during anti-sexual harassment protest for verbally harassing female protesters Saturday, and two protesters were arrested for holding banners that claim the police harass women.
Around 200 participated at the protest in Cairo’s upscale district Zamalek. Dena Elshabba first organized the event on Facebook as a response to a shocking video of brutal sexual assault in Tahrir Square, but then 14 human rights and anti-sexual harassment groups officially supported the event, including the state-funded National Council for Women Rights (NCW).
The endorsement of the NCW’s was criticized by independent groups, which made the event’s organizers remove it from the list of organizers.
When NCW called for participating in the protest on its Facebook page, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (Opantish) withdrew from the event’s organizers.
“NCW has addressed such assaults over the past years either by negligence, discrediting or considering them isolated incidents orchestrated by a certain political faction, which has aggravated the crisis,” Opantish said.
However, many of the movement’s members participated in the protest and one of them, Nader Osama, was arrested for holding a paper that read “we will not forget the [Ministry of] Interior’s [sexual] harassment.”
Hermas Fawzy, a member of the Egyptian Women’s Union was arrested for the same reason, according to I Saw Harassment.
There were several banners criticizingthe NCW, and some women hold banners that read “NCW does not represent me.”
NCW had claimed in a statement that the Tahrir Square assault was politically motivated to “tint Egyptians’ happiness with Sisi’s inauguration,” while other independent groups claim that the phenomenon is a social epidemic that has been around for years.
Brigadier General Abdel Aziz Khedr told The Cairo Post that three men were arrested for verbally harassing women during the protest, but one of the women waived her complaint.
One man cat-called a female protester “sweety” and another called another woman a “hottie,” Khedr said.
One of the women who filed a complaint said in a video filmed by Sherouk News that a taxi driver told her “hey hottie, we are still going to do whatever we want to you,” while she was holding an anti-harassment banner. The police stopped the taxi and arrested the driver.
A young woman was holding a paper that read “The [Ministry of] Interior harassed me.” Maha el-Sayed, a woman who was present at the protest, cursed her and accused her of treason. A moment later, she brought police officers to see her, and they took the paper from her, and she left the protest.
“How can she attack the police when she is protesting under their protection? I will file a complaint against her,” Sayed told The Cairo Post.
Khedr told The Cairo Post that the anti-police slogans are “inciting the public opinion against the police at a time when we are trying to regain our strength,”
“These banners go beyond the goal of the protest because they are political and the protest is against harassment,” Khedr said.
The protest’s demands included establishing a police department dedicated to the protection of women on streets and a rehabilitation center for sexual harassment survivors and for sexual harassers.