CAIRO: A draft law to protect sexual harassment victims has been approved by Egypt’s parliament.
The draft law aims to protect them by not revealing their identities in crimes related to indecent assault, corruption of morals, exposure to others, and harassment.
Egyptian women can be reluctant to share their experience of sexual harassment for fear that they will be attacked if their statements are revealed.
The country has in recent months witnessed several celebrities complain on social media about verbal abuse.
Egyptian actress Rania Youssef shared photos of messages that she had received, threatening to prosecute those responsible for the messages. Last month actress Hana Zahid revealed that she had been harassed, and a writer accused the owner of a famous publishing house of harassing her.
The National Council for Women publishes statistics about women’s exposure to harassment. It received 283 complaints about harassment that took place during the Eid al-Adha holidays. Amal Abdel Moneim, director of the Complaints Office at the council, said the complaints were mostly about sexual harassment, blackmail and threats. The office received 149 complaints from girls who had been subjected to these acts and wished to submit reports.
Monemim said that social and legal support was provided to women making the complaints, that they were made aware of the legal measures to be taken, and that there was also the possibility of providing a volunteer lawyer free of charge to file the case according to the case.
Nihad Abu Al-Qumsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, said the draft law was a positive step in the face of harassment.
“The law will be an encouraging and motivating factor for girls who are subjected to harassment and are too afraid of having their private information leaked to file reports against harassers,” Abu Al-Qumsan said in a press statement.
The draft law authorized the investigating judge not to provide the victim’s information, stressing there was a need for a sub-file with the victim’s complete data to be presented to the court, the accused and the defence upon request. But this aspect was rejected by the parliament speaker as it had a touch of unconstitutionality.
Ali Abdel-Aal, house of representative speaker, suggested amending the text to read: “It is not permissible for the arrest warrant or investigating authorities to disclose the victim’s information in the crimes of indecent assault, corruption of morals, exposure to others and harassment contained in the Penal Code and Child Law, except to those concerned.”
According to Abdel-Aal's proposal, the concerned parties are the accused, the victim, and their lawyers.
“We do not need a sub-file,” he said.