Egyptian NGOs and other civil society organisations are calling on the state “to bear the responsibility of combating the phenomenon of sexual violence in the public sphere”, said a joint statement Sunday.
The statement was released after the South Cairo Criminal Court sentenced seven men accused in sexual harassment cases to life in prison. Two other men were sentenced to 20 years, on 16 July. The assailants were charged with kidnapping, indecent assault, physical torture, attempted rape and attempted murder.
The crimes took place in Tahrir Square amid celebrations for President Abdel Fattah
Al-Sisi’s inauguration on 8 June.
The organisations and NGOs also stressed the importance of investigating the previous “500 documented cases [of sexual violence] from June 2012 to January 2014”.
The statement called on the state to follow up on and complete procedures for all legal complaints and reports of all crimes of sexual violence “that are rampant in Egyptian society”. The statement was also used to “announce a national strategy”, designed with the help of feminist organisations to combat sexual violence.
It also demanded that “full strategic steps be taken to overcome these crimes by creating and using mechanisms that ensure accountability and provide services to help the survivors”.
“This ruling must be considered the beginning of reforming the legislative system and the institutions set to deal with cases of sexual violence that plague Egyptian society, and ensuring the fair trials of all perpetrators of such crimes,” the statement read.
Mostafa Mahmoud, a lawyer with the Nazra Center for Feminist Studies, previously told Daily News Egypt he hopes the attention the state has recently been giving to sexual harassment cases is not a temporary response to please public opinion.