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Parliament Approves Tougher Penalties Against Sexual Harassment and Bullying

November 14, 2023
Photo credit: Ahram.

Egypt’s House of Representatives approved government-proposed penal code amendments, aimed at toughening penalties for sexual harassment and bullying, in its session on Sunday, 12 November.

Changes are to be made to Article 306(A) of the penal code, introducing stricter measures against four types of harassment: physical, verbal, visual, and online. Offenders could face up to four years in prison and a fine of up to EGP 200,000 (USD 6,473).

In cases where the harassment occurs in a workplace or on a means of transportation, and the offender is armed, the penalty will be heightened to five years in prison and a fine of up to EGP 300,000.

Additionally, the draft suggests modifications to Article 309(B) of the penal code, aiming to punish those harassing victims who are relatives, under their care, or in their service, with a potential sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to EGP 100,000 (USD 3,236).

Prior to the amendments, the penalty for committing the crime of harassment ranged from 6 months to 5 years of imprisonment, in addition to a fine that may reach up to 50,000 (USD 1,618) Egyptian pounds.

The explanatory note accompanying the draft law underscored the widespread occurrence of sexual harassment and bullying in Egypt. It emphasized that these offenses constitute a form of violence against women and children within society.

The note further highlighted the escalating number of sexual harassment incidents against women, particularly in workplaces and on public transportation, in recent years. As a response to this concerning trend, the note argued that a legislative amendment is urgently required to strengthen penalties for these crimes.

“It is not enough to increase penalties for harassment and bullying; it is very important that the media play an active role in raising public awareness regarding the detrimental physical and psychological impact of these crimes,” Speaker of the Parliament Hanafy El-Gebaly said.

Ali Gomaa, the chairman of the parliament’s religious affairs committee, said that the amendments align with Islamic principles, providing protection to women from various forms of violence and aggression.

“In this context, it is crucial for religious leaders to advocate that harassment is a transgression against all faiths, and those who engage in such behavior should face appropriate punishment,” he explained.

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