The Interior Ministry will investigate accusations that a low-ranking police officer sexually harassed a young woman walking out of the Agouza church he was guarding, the privately owned Al-Bawaba newspaper reported Thursday.
Sara Emad published an account on her Facebook page claiming that the officer called out, “Hey, sexy!” as she was leaving Saint Mary Girgis Church.
“I walked by, but then I thought, this is an officer who is guarding a house of God. Church officials had to know,” Emad wrote. She went back to the church to complain, but said the church clerics felt they had no power to address the issue.
“This is the government, what we can we do?” one church employee allegedly told her.
“A low-ranking officer is now the government? Then what if a police officer raped a woman in the street?” Emad wrote.
When she left the church for the second time, Emad said the officer then harassed her again. She told his companion that someone guarding a house of God should not harass women, and took the offending officer’s picture.
The officer then laughed. “I will photograph you now, because your outfit makes me sexually harass you,” he allegedly told her.
“These are police officers, the men who are supposed to protect us and guard houses of God. He does not even think that a church is a house of God!” Emad wrote in her Facebook post.
Interior Ministry officials were not available to comment on the incident.
The ministry has recently found itself embroiled in several sexual harassment allegations, with personnel most often accused of abusing incarcerated women.
In March, a leaked video showed a group of police officers sexually assaulting two women arrested in a raid in the northern city of Meet Ghamr, Daqahlia. The officers were referred to investigations, but the ministry never released the results.
In May, a low-ranking police officer was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting a woman at an Imbaba police station in August 2014. The woman had reportedly been diagnosed with an undisclosed mental illness prior to the assault.
The Interior Ministry has long been accused of systematic sexual abuse against female political prisoners. In particular, female prisoners associated with the Muslim Brotherhood have said they were systematically raped and assaulted by prison guards.
A delegation from the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) visited Qanater Women’s Prison in July 2014 to investigate this wave of accusations. The delegation denied that rape or torture had occurred in the prison, noting only cases of maltreatment.