NGOs accuse security forces of failing to fight sexual harassment

Eleven human rights organizations released a joint statement Thursday condemning "the continuing crimes of sexual harassment of women," accusing the state of "silence and declining to take deterrent measures to address the phenomenon."

The NGOs denounced a "recent incident where two girls were harassed downtown by a street vendor, after which the police in Abdeen Police Station urged the [two girls] to backtrack on the complaint [they filed] against the harasser."

The organizations announced full solidarity with the victims, and appealed to the state to address sexual harassment crimes and to allocate a hotline dedicated to reporting such incidents. They also demanded that police personnel who fail to report harassment incidents to be punished and to undergo mandatory training in the topic.

Signatories to the statement included the Egyptian Foundation for Family Development, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Catch a Harasser and the Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights.

In a related incident, on Friday a woman accused a low-ranking police officer in Mattariya Police Station of sexually assaulting her 30-year old daughter and attempting to rape her in prison. The daughter was detained pending investigation into an alleged theft.

Prosecutors ordered that forensic tests be conducted to determine whether she was assaulted or not.

The topic of sexual harassment dominated Thursday’s meeting between the head of Egypt's National Council for Women, Mervat al-Tallawy, and Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin.

The minister stressed during the meeting that security patrols has been already intensified at all-girls schools. Eddin claimed that police have been ordered to immediately arrest any perpetrator seen committing an act of harassment, without waiting for charges to be filed.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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