CAIRO, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A U.N. official Friday expressed concern about increased violence against women in Egypt, particularly those taking part in protests.
Michelle Bachelet, executive director of the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, said in a statement the organization "is deeply disturbed by the gravity of recent attacks against women, including the reports of sexual assault, many of which occurred in the same Tahrir Square in which women rallied to contribute to a better future for their country."
Egypt Independent reported the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said about two dozen women were allegedly sexually assaulted in Cairo's Tahrir in recent days. High Commissioner Navi Pillay criticized authorities for failing to prevent the attacks and not arresting the assailants.
The attacks occurred during demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi, who has declared a state of emergency in the country and imposed a curfew in the most restive areas. Dozens of people have died and about 2,000 have been injured in the protests.
Bachelet urged Egyptian leaders to take steps to assure women and children are safe and have equal rights.
"As a vibrant force in civil society, women continue to press for their rights, equal participation in decision-making, and the upholding of the principles of the revolution by the highest levels of leadership in Egypt," Bachelet said.