Anti-harassment NGO “Shoft Ta7arosh” (I Saw Harassment) reported over 200 incidents of sexual harassment in downtown Cairo during the first two days of the Eid Al-Adha holiday.
The NGO volunteers recorded 78 incidents of verbal sexual harassment and nine of physical sexual harassment on Thursday, in addition to 112 incidents of verbal sexual harassment and 24 of physical sexual harassment on Friday.
According to the report, some of those volunteering for the NGO were physically harassed while attempting to protect a group of four girls from being sexually harassed on Kasr El-Nile Bridge on Friday. The harassers threatened the volunteers and the four girls with knives before the latter group was able to escape. The report indicates the entire incident occurred without any kind of police presence in sight.
Sexual harassment is highly prevalent in Egypt; a 2013 survey reported that a whopping 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, while 96.5 percent reported experiencing physical sexual harassment and 95.5 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment through verbally abusive language.
Although it is a regular occurrence for most women in Egypt, incidents of sexual harassment often reach peak levels during Eid holidays, when a large number of citizens flood the streets and public spaces to celebrate. This pattern first made headlines during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in 2006, when large mobs of young men chased and sexually assaulted women in downtown Cairo.
Earlier this year, police forces arrested 84 individuals during the first two days of Eid Al-Fitr for sexual harassment.
In accordance with recently passed anti-harassment laws, harassers are to be penalized with a fine of LE 3,000-5,000 and/or a jail sentence of no less than six months. However, many of these incidents go unreported to the authorities and many others who do attempt to press charges face serious obstacles to do so successfully.