Egypt’s outgoing Interim President Adly Mansour has issued his final law as President, criminalizing all forms of sexual harassment, regardless of the medium it occurs through.
The new law declares that those found guilty of verbal sexual harassment in a private or public place will be sentenced to a minimum of six months in prison and fined no less than EGP 3,000 ($US 420).
The amended law, under Article 306, defines verbal sexual harassment as occuring through stalking, using gestures or words or through modern means of communication (i.e. internet, mobile and more) or in any other means through actions that carry sexual or pornographic hints.
Meanwhile, repeat offenders face a punishment of a minimum of one year in jail and a fine of at least EGP 5,000 ($US 700). Those who repeat the act once more will face double the fine and jail sentence.
Crackdown on forcible sexual contact
A new article has also been issued into power, adding a harsher punishment to those found guilty of unwanted sexual contact. Violators of this law will be punished with a minimum of one year in prison and a fine between EGP 10,000 and EGP 20,000.
If such sexual contact is by an authority figure, whether it be in the work place, at school or even at home, then the punishment would be a prison sentence of at least two years and a fine between EGP 20,000 and EGP 50,000.
Battling the sexual harassment epidemic
Earlier this week, 23 male school students were arrested for harassing their female classmates during their end of year examinations.
Meanwhile, a man was sentenced to one year in prison and fined EGP 10,000 ($US 1,427) after he had been found guilty of sexually harassing a woman in Cairo under a draft of the new anti-sexual harassment law.
Sexual harassment continues to be an epidemic in Egypt with almost 99 percent of women surveyed in a report released April 2013 by the United Nations in collaboration with Egypt’s Demographic Centre and the National Planning Institute, have reported being sexually harassed.
Previously, Egypt had no specific law forbidding sexual harassment. However, some articles in the penal code were sometimes enforced in the occurrence of harassment cases.