Sexual assaults in Tahrir Square mar Egyptian inaugural celebrations

On Friday, Egypt announced that it has criminalized sexual harassment in an effort to curb the large amount of violence against women in the country.
By Aileen Graef  |  June 9, 2014 at 3:55 PM
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CAIRO, June 9 (UPI) -- The inauguration of newly-elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was marred by a video of a mass sexual assault during the celebration in Tahrir Square.

The two-minute video, which started circulating Monday, showed a bruised woman being stripped and attacked by a group of men, police officers struggling to reach her and the woman eventually being carried to a waiting vehicle.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said that seven men, between the ages of 15 and 49, have been arrested for sexual harassment, but it is unclear whether it is related to the assault shown in the video.

"Well, they are happy," said Maha Bahnasy, a female correspondent for the pro-Sisi Tahrir Channel. "The people are having fun."

Pro-Sisi journalist Hala Mustapha said there were deliberate attempts to incite sexual harassment to "ruin the happiness" of the celebration.

The string of scandals in Tahrir come days after the Egyptian government criminalized sexual assault, imposing punishments of up to five years in prison. Sexual harassment is a critical problem in Egypt, a 2013 U.N. study found that 99.3 percent of women in Egypt have been sexually harassed.

Sisi, who supported imposing "virginity tests" on female detainees, said he will work to restore "shame" to men who harass women.

"It pains me very much when someone offends her in any way," said Sisi. "It goes against gallantry, magnanimity and manhood."

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