Women in Egypt are subjected to daily sexual harassment and assault on the streets, on public transport and in the workplace. The attacks against female demonstrators in Tahrir Square represent the most visible manifestation the long-standing and systemic problem. These crimes are met with almost complete impunity. Successive Egyptian governments have failed to address violence against women, with serious implications for women’s participation in the political transition of their country.The current climate of impunity fuels further crimes. Crimes against all survivors, whether committed by state officials or by non-state actors, must be independently, impartially and fully investigated with a view to bringing those responsible to justice. In particularly, recently reported crimes of sexual violence against detainees in official and unofficial detention centres must be immediately investigated.
The authorities must demonstrate the political will to combat sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence in all its forms. A holistic approach is required to tackle the epidemic of sexual violence in Egypt, and make the public space a safe place for women, where they can exercise their right to participate fully in public life, with full respect for their right to bodily integrity Comprehensive reforms are required, not only to criminal laws and procedures but also addressing the sources of discrimination against women.
The signatory organizations call on the Egyptian authorities to urgently adopt the following measures aimed at preventing violence against women, sanctioning perpetrators and protecting survivors:
- 1. Publicize the government national strategies for combating violence against women and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women, and ensure the effective consultation and involvement of women’s rights groups and other civil society organizations throughout the process.
- 2. Conduct independent and effective investigations into all crimes of sexual violence that have taken place since February 2011, in order to hold those responsible accountable, and counter the constant message of impunity, and ensure the right to reparation to victims in accordance with international standards.
- 3. Reform legislation to criminalise all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, marital rape and sexual harassment, in accordance with international standards. In particularly, amend articles 267, 268 and 269 in the Egyptian Penal Code, to include definitions of rape, including anal rape, oral rape, and rape by other parts of the body and objects, and a definition of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
- 4. Ensure that actors in the justice system at all levels (police, social workers, prosecutors, judiciary, forensic officers) receive training on effectively preventing, investigating and prosecuting crimes of sexual violence. They must immediately stop blaming survivors for the violence they endure.
- 5. Take measures to ensure that women and girls who are survivors of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection, including protection orders, safe shelters, legal aid, medical and psychological treatment.
- 6. Ensure that physicians and nurses receive training on how to deal with survivors with sensitivity and not subject them to additional psychological trauma; learn how to preserve evidence of sexual assault and rape; and provide rape kits in public and private hospitals.
- 7. Condemn violence against women, including all forms of sexual violence, and call on political and religious leaders to do the same.
- 8. Conduct awareness-raising actions on a national scale on combating discrimination and violence against women in all spheres of life.
- 9. Ensure that the Unit for Monitoring Violence against Women, affiliated to the Ministry of Interior publicises its mandate, and cooperates with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, to implement a national strategy that combats sexual violence against women.
- 10. Ensure accurate and up-to-date records on violence against women are maintained and made available to the public.
- New Woman Foundation
- Initiative for Egyptian Female Lawyers
- Shoft Taharosh (I saw Harassment)
- Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development (ACT)
- Al Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
- Anti-Harassment initiative
- Banat Masr Khat Ahmar Movement
- Baheya Ya Masr Institution
- Tahrir Bodyguard
- Nazra for Feminist Studies
- Uprising of Women in the Arab World
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)