CAIRO — A string of sexual assaults on women during celebrations of Egypt’s presidential inauguration — including a mass attack on a 19-year-old student who was stripped in Cairo’s Tahrir Square — prompted outrage Monday as a video emerged purportedly showing the teenager, bloodied and naked, surrounded by dozens of men.
Seven men were arrested in connection with the assault and police were investigating 27 other complaints of sexual harassment against women during Sunday’s rallies by tens of thousands of people celebrating Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s inauguration late into the night, security officials said.
Sexual violence has increasingly plagued large gatherings during the past three years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and women’s groups complained Monday that tough new laws have not done enough.
Twenty-nine women’s rights groups released a joint statement accusing the government of failing do enough to address the spiraling outbreak of mob attacks on women. The groups said they had documented more than 250 cases of “mass sexual rape and mass sexual assaults” from November 2012 to January 2014.
“Combatting that phenomena requires a comprehensive national strategy,” said the statement signed by the women’s groups.
Last week, authorities issued a decree declaring sexual harassment a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. The decree amended Egypt’s current laws on abuse, which did not criminalize sexual harassment and only vaguely referred to such offenses as “indecent assault.”
In the latest incident, video footage posted on social media purportedly shows the student completely naked amid a crowd of men, parts of her body bloodied as policemen struggled to escort her out of Tahrir. The video appeared authentic and was consistent with AP reporting of the incident.
Seven men were arrested in connection with the attack on the student, who was hospitalized, said the officials. They did not elaborate on her condition and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.