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550 Egyptian schoolgirls harassed in one day

Offenders are 16 to 18 years old

Egyptian police announced Wedneday they had arrested more than 550 teenagers suspected of sexually harassing girls outside schools in several Cairo districts in a single day. The culprits were awaiting interrogation and trial Thursday.

The police launched an extensive clampdown targeting stores and internet cafes near schools. Security forces raided six internet cafes that did not have permits, and another five that played pornographic videos for truants, according to a statement issued by the Cairo Security Department on the day of the crackdown.

After many families complained about girls being targeted outside schools in several neighborhods the head of the Cairo Investigations Bureau, General Farouk Lashin, launched a campaign against sexual harassment, an interior Ministry source told AlArabiya.net.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that most of the harassers were between 16 and 18 years old.

According to the source police launched an earlier campaign that resulted in the arrest of almost 300 people for harassment in Cairo streets.

"Sexual harassment is the scare of parents now and this was very obvious in the complaints we get," he said. "That is why security forces are posted all over Cairo streets and around schools and universities."

An increasingly common problem in Egyptian society, sexual harassment extends to females from all walks of life.

A recent survey by the BBC found that more than four out of five women reported being sexually harassed. The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights (ECWR) in Egypt described it as a “social cancer,” according to the BBC.

Pressure on the government to introduce legislation to control the problem culminated in the first verdict on the first sexual harassment case involving Noha Ostath in Egypt issued in October of this year.


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)