One of our activists at the University of Cairo alerted us to this case on Monday. We received the video and posted it online. It quickly attracted a lot of media attention.
This isn’t the first time a female student has been a victim of harassment at a university. In 2012, a young female student at the University of Cairo’s architecture school University sued a classmate who assaulted her. However, it is the first time that such an act happened in the courtyard in front of everyone. And it’s a dangerous precedent, as this shows the aggressors are not even scared of being punished or expelled.
There is, unfortunately, a climate of impunity that encourages sexual assault attackers in Egypt. The situation has worsened since the start of the revolution of February 25, 2011. Taking advantage of the disorder and knowing that they will not be punished, attackers repeatedly harassed women who took part in demonstrations at Tahrir Square. We have been fighting since the fall of Mubarak for sexual harassment to be criminalised under the law [Editor’s Note: As opposed to rape, sexual harassment doesn’t exist in Egyptian law
During protests against former president Mohammed Morsi in 2012, the parliament’s human rights commission, which was controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, even said that women who went to Tahrir Sqaure were bringing sexual assaults onto themselves!
“The dean promised to give us everything we need to fight against harassment on this campus”
Unfortunately, this attitude remains pervasive today. A lot of people, particularly journalists, have tried to justify the assaults in Cairo. That’s unacceptable. We have spoken to the University of Cairo’s dean, who has promised to give us everything we need to fight against harassment on this campus.
What’s worse is that several women who reported sexual harassment at police stations say they have been mistreated by police. Furthermore, some women don’t dare to report their aggressors for fear of repercussions.
Despite this, I remain optimistic. Women understand that the authorities will not do anything for them, so they’ve started to organise themselves over the past two or three years. Today, there are intervention groups against harassment, apps and websites to report attackers, self-defence courses for women, and more.