Egypt Approves Law to Protect Identities of Women Reporting Sexual Abuse

Advertisement

On Sunday, in an attempt to encourage women and girls to report cases of sexual violence, the Egyptian government approved a new law that will protect the identity of women who come forward to report sexual harassment or assault.

The new law, which will give victims the automatic right to anonymity, comes after hundreds of Egyptian women started to speak up on social media under the #MeToo movement about sexual assault in a country where women have long felt disadvantaged.

Parliamentarian, Ghada Ghareeb, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “The government had noticed that there was a sharp decline in women being able to report cases of sexual assault they have been subjected to because they fear social stigma,”. She said the law was a step “in a long road of issuing regulations that preserve women’s rights”.

Ghareeb expects that the approval of the law will increase reports of sexual assault over the next few months in the conservative, Muslim-majority nation.

The bill was approved by the cabinet early in July 2020 and it was submitted to parliament after being presented by the Ministry of Justice.

The fight against Gender-Based Violence in Egypt took a turn this year when a university student from a wealthy background was arrested and accused of raping and blackmailing multiple women during a widely-published case in July. Investigations into the matter are still underway.

The case in return triggered a #MeToo wave in Egypt and the National Council for Women said it had received 400 complaints with the majority being about violence against women within five days of the case being made public. It triggered hundreds of women who then started to share their stories online.

As the debate escalated, an Instagram page reportedly revealed a gang rape case in a Cairo hotel, the six men involved are allegedly from powerful, rich families.

A 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found that Cairo is the most dangerous megacity for women, and 99% of women in Egypt interviewed by the United Nations in 2013, reported sexual harassment.