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Sexual harassment reported downtown on first day of Eid
Courtesy: Melody Patry

Like rhythmic repetition, harassment incidents were documented from street gatherings on the first day of the Eid celebrations.

“I Saw Harassment” — an initiative concerned with combating sexual violence and violence against women — said on Monday that they had documented 13 sexual harassment cases in Cairo, three of which were carried out by mobs.

Some of the cases took place near the Nile Cornish and the Egyptian Museum. In two cases, reports were filed at the police station. 

The group spotted a light security presence for most of the day, which intensified after sunset. However, they acknowledged a positive role by security forces, especially those tasked specifically with combating sexual violence and harassment. The group noted police forces wearing signs indicating the directorate they work under, namely the “Police Force for Combating Violence Against Women.”

This force, established by the Ministry of Interior in May, includes female police officers and has been praised for considering gender sensitivity within law enforcement.

The state-owned Middle East News Agency recounted incidents of physical and verbal harassment, with police intervening in five cases in the areas around Al-Azhar Park, Al-Fustat Park and Talaat Harb Square. Arrested suspects are between 16 and 33 years old. MENA confirmed the presence of special forces, including female police officers.

The “I Saw Harassment” group was present in several hotspots in Downtown Cairo known to host people celebrating Eid from 10 am to midnight. During this time, the group raised awareness about violence against women and intervened in cases of sexual assault.

They reported a low number of women on the streets, most of whom were with their families, possibly reflecting fear of potential attacks. They said most people responded positively to their presence, although some young men mocked them, claiming that women like to be harassed.

On June 5, a law criminalizing sexual harassment came into effect, with a minimum six-month jail sentence and LE3,000 fine for offenders.

On July 16, nine defendants received verdicts ranging from life sentences to 20 years in prison for assaulting women in Tahrir Square on the day of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s inauguration.

Although a widespread phenomenon, particularly tied to large gatherings in public spaces, Eid holidays often come with a traditional dose of harassment, an issue that has been heavily condemned.