Egypt Considering Tougher Sex-Harassment Law

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From Women’s eNews:

When Egypt’s new parliament convenes in early February, some members will be proposing a law to strengthen penalties against sexual offenders by increasing jail time and fines.

The bill will also put more pressure on police to crack down on perpetrators by calling on them to intervene when incidents occur and not to remain passive bystanders when women demand justice.

Because both the ruling National Democratic Party and the opposition Muslim Brotherhood movement are promoting the bill, many onlookers expect it to pass.

“I believe it is time for Egypt to move forward on this issue and the bill proposed is the best chance because there is no opposition from the government or the opposition parties,” said the head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Hafez Abu Saeda. “So we are optimistic that it will pass.”

The bill follows two high-profile sentences in sexual assault cases last year that staffers at the New Women’s Foundation in Cairo say have spurred female victims of sexual assault and street harassment to seek advice on how to press charges against offenders.

“Already we are seeing women more willing to go and deal with the abuses against them,” said Amal Abdel Hadi, president of the foundation. “It is because of the court cases that women are coming out to speak (about) what happened to them.”

One of last year’s groundbreaking cases was brought by Noha Rushdi, a 27-year-old documentary filmmaker from Israel who was groped on the street by a man who leaned out of a car window to grab her breasts.

Last October the court sentenced the man to three years in prison under the current sexual harassment laws and fined him nearly $900.

Read the entire account here.

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