Jun 12 2014
The inauguration of Egypt’s new President, former Army Chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, was marked by the sexual assault of eight women in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Video footage has emerged of one of them – a 19 year old student, naked and bloodied, being rescued by Egyptian police from a mob of men. Egypt’s forensic authority has just concluded that the women were sexually assaulted but not raped. Seven men have so far been arrested but one has already been released.
The incidents come on the heels of a new law criminalizing sexual harassment in a country that has struggled with the issue for many years. The mass protests in 2011 that took place largely in Tahrir Square, were also marked by some serious cases of sexual harassment, assault, and rape of women, including foreign journalists. Al-Sisi has vowed to enforce the new law strictly, and in general, has promised to “correct the mistakes of the past.”
In the wake of the sexual assaults during his inauguration, he has said his government would, “vigorously enforce the law and take all necessary measures to combat sexual harassment, an unacceptable form of conduct, alien to the best principles of Egyptian culture.”
GUEST: Ghada Talhami, emeritus professor in the department of politics at Lake Forest College. Her books include The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt and Palestine in the Egyptian Press