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Egypt Implements Tougher Penalties for Sexual Harassment Offences

December 13, 2023
Protests against sexual harassment in Downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square, 2013 – Image Credit: Bora S. Kamel/Flickr

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi ratified Law 185 of 2023 on 12 December, solidifying amends to the penal code imposing stricter penalties for sexual harassment, according to Ahram Online.

Article One mandates imprisonment for individuals committing sexual or obscene insinuations in public or private spaces face prison time for a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years.

Insinuations include gesturing, actions, using words, or through digital communication methods, including wired, wireless, or any other technological means.

An alternate punishment in the form of a fine ranging from EGP 100,000 (USD 3,236) to EGP 200,000 (USD 6,472) can be added to the sentence or as an alternative to imprisonment, although the criteria for selecting this alternative remains unclear.

Article Two focuses on workplace or public sexual harassment incidents involving two or more individuals in workplaces or public areas, specifying imprisonment from three to five years and a fine between EGP 200,000 (USD 6,472) and EGP 300,000 (USD 9,708).

The amended law includes repeated stalking incidents and if a perpetrator possesses a weapon.

For crimes involving multiple conditions, Article Two states that the minimum prison sentence is four years. For repeated offences, both imprisonment and fine penalties double within their respective minimum and maximum limits.

Further amendments address situations where the offender holds functional, familial, or educational authority over the victim, exploiting this power dynamic. If two or more aggravating circumstances are present, the penalty increases to imprisonment for a minimum of 10 years.

Previously, 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.

A 2013 UN Women study reported that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women experienced harassment before – a continuously existing issue that the country’s society and government continue to struggle to address.

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