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Sexual assaults in Egypt mar Eid holiday

Paper reports men attacked women in streets

The Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan was once again marred by sexual harassment in the streets of Cairo when Egyptian police arrested dozens of young men suspected of sexually assaulting women in the streets, according to a local newspaper.

The independent al-Masry al-Youm reported that 150 young men assaulted female passers-by on Gamaat al-Duwal al-Arabiya street in the upper-class neighborhood of Mohandeseen. One woman’s clothes were ripped off her body and another had her veil torn, the newspaper reported.

Police arrested 38 suspects, between 15 and 22, and questioned three of the female victims.

One of the female victims, who wore the 'niqab' (an Islamic dress covering the body from head to toe, except for the eyes), said that a number of young men assaulted her and her friends.

"They tore our clothes and snatched the 'hijab' (veil) worn by one of us," she was quoted as saying. She added that there were many other groups of young men along the street.

The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported that Cairo police have inspected 53 cases of sexual harassment as well as 52 prostitution-related cases in their crackdown on misbehavior in cinemas and public parks during the first day of Eid al-Fitr.

Similar attacks during the Eid holiday in 2006 went unreported by the mainstream media for several days until bloggers, who published images and videos of sexual assaults in the streets while police stood and watched without intervening, compelled other news outlets to cover the story.

A report in July by the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights found that almost half of Egyptian women are sexually harassed on a daily basis while almost two-thirds of Egyptian men -- 62 percent -- admitted to harassing women, including those wearing Islamic headscarves. But only 12 percent of women said they filed a complaint.


(Translation from Arabic by Abeer Tayel)