Women’s organizations demand follow-up on harassment issue
Tahrir's Harassers during wednesday trial - YOUM7/Hassan Muhammed

CAIRO: Women’s organizations have welcomed recent sentences for sexual assaults and harassment, but are demanding sustained political follow-up on the issue.

“[We need to] eliminate slums and poverty, raise awareness about the position and respect of women in religion,  and the media has an important role to change mistaken thoughts and cultures in our society,” said writer Margret Azir to The Cairo Post Wednesday.

A man was sentenced Saturday to one year in prison and fined 3,000 EGP ($420) for filming under a woman’s skirt while she was sleeping on a bus. The verdict took place three days after the incident.

Fathy Fareed, media coordinator of the I Saw Harassment campaign, said that the recent judicial procedures “may reduce the number of perpetrators of such crimes, but the are not the best solution.”

There should be clear methodology to support and amendments to rehabilitate the survivors of harassment”who face big psychological problems,” added Fareed. He also said that it is “not only the victims who need rehabiliation, the harassers as well need to be treated in a different way, rather than be jailed in inhumane conditions.”

Wednesday was the first hearing of the trial of 12 suspects accused of sexual assault and harassment in Tahrir Square during inauguration celebrations of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi June 8.

A video of a mob harassing and stripping a woman naked in Tahrir in a different incident went viral on social media and sparked public outrage against such pervasive assaults; President Sisi visited the victim at the hospital.

Former president Adly Mansour amended articles in the 1937 Criminal Code to include criminalizing sexual harassment, which would send harassers not less than one year in prison and a fine of at least 3,000 EGP ($422.)

Eventhough the new amendments were welcomed, many activists found them insufficient and that “there should be an independent law addressing harassment and not only amendments,” said Mona Ezzat, the director of the New Woman Organization to The Cairo Post.

“The legal and security solutions applied now are important, but not enough,” added Ezzat. “There should be a strategy adopted by qualified people to deal with victims of harassmentwhile investigating the crime.”

She further explained that the New Woman Organization has a comprehensive project with a “complete vision and accurate definition”of harassment and rape, which “we hope to be reviewed and accepted by the coming parliament.”

“The project discusses not only the harassment to women, but also to men at police custody and prisons, as well as it include assaults against children,” continued Ezzat.

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