Egypt arrests 7 for attacks on women

Updated: 2014-06-11 07:17

By Reuters in Cairo (China Daily)

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Egypt arrests 7 for attacks on women

Supporters of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi celebrate his inauguration on Sunday in Tahrir Square. Police arrested seven men on Monday for sexually harassing women during the celebrations, officials said. Thomas Hartwell / Associated Press

Egyptian authorities have arrested seven men for sexually harassing women near Cairo's Tahrir Square while thousands celebrated the inauguration of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

A video posted on YouTube on Sunday, claiming to depict one of the Tahrir assaults, showed a naked woman with injuries on her hip being dragged through a large crowd at night toward an ambulance. The footage caused an uproar.

It is not clear whether her attackers were among those arrested for Sunday's violence.

Last week, Egypt issued a new law that punishes sexual harassment with at least six months in jail or fines of at least 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($420). Judicial sources said the arrests were made under the new law.

Former army chief Sisi, who ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood after mass protests against his rule last summer, has spoken of the importance of women in Egyptian society without discussing specific plans.

Sexual assault was rampant at demonstrations during and after the 2011 uprising against then-president Hosni Mubarak and is common at large gatherings in Egypt. Local activists and foreign journalists are among those who have been attacked.

Egypt arrests 7 for attacks on women

"In the framework of security efforts to protect the celebrations in the squares yesterday on June 8, the security apparatus was able to arrest all (seven men) for harassing a number of women," the ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook.

It listed the names of the men, aged 15 to 49, and the areas where they lived. Prosecutors are detaining them for four days pending investigations, judicial sources said. Two of the men admitted beating a woman, while five denied any wrongdoing and said the women had provoked them, the sources added.

Sexual harassment, high rates of female genital cutting and a surge in violence after the Arab Spring uprisings have made Egypt the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey showed late last year.