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Policewomen should probe harassment: Egypt activists

Rights groups say female officers more aware of the trauma

A group of Egyptian activists declared their support for a campaign launched by right group, the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights which calls for assigning the investigation of rape and sexual harassment cases to female police officers.

Women are more aware of the trauma that results from rape or any other type of sexual assault, Egyptian female activists argued, and they have a better ability at dealing with other women, Arab Media House reported Sunday.

In addition to assigning policewomen the job of listening to the testimonies of victims of rape and harassment, the initiative pointed out the necessity of holding the meetings between the victims and police officers outside the prosecutor’s office.

The campaign recommended that those meetings be held at the victims’ houses and called for training policewomen on a more personal approach when dealing with women who have been exposed to sexual offences.

More comfortable

Having female offciers handle rape and harassment cases spares the victim the embarrassment of talking to a man about such a sensitive issue, said MP Georgette Qellini.

“Women are also more capable of understanding what the victim is going through and this will make the victim more comfortable,” she said.

According to Qellini, assigning female officers the investigation of rape and harassment cases is applied in many parts of the world and it should be very easy to apply it in Egypt also.

“To apply such a law, no draft proposal or parliament approval is needed. A decision by the Minister of Interior is enough. He can just make some changes to female offcers's assignment schedules like moving them from passport control and prison administrations to this job.”

To apply such a law, no draft proposal or parliament approval is needed. A decision by the Minister of Interior is enough

Egyptian MP Georgette Qellini

Too much delay

According to women rights activist Awatef Wali, the decision to apply this law has been much delayed especially in the light of the rising cases of sexual harassment in Egypt.

“Isn’t it enough that the governments of the U.S. and the U.K. warn their citizens of coming to Egypt because of harassment?” she wondered.

Wali referred to a report published by the Washington Post where Egypt ranks as the second most frequent country in the world where sexual harassment takes place following Afghanistan.

In addition to female police officers, Wali argued, the government has to impose deterrent penalties and increase the presence of security in the streets for the immediate handling of such cases as well as provide other services for victims.

“Police stations have to have a hotline dedicated to rape and harassment cases which should also be operated by women.”

According to the annual report issued by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 1308 rape and harassment cases were reported last year and the number of unreported cases is expected to be much higher.

The remarkable rise in harassment cases is portrayed in a recent Egyptian movie called “678” which calls for fighting sexual violence and has so far been endorsed by 23 rights organizations.



(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid).

Isn’t it enough that the governments of the U.S. and the U.K. warn their subjects of coming to Egypt because of harassment?

women rights activist Awatef Wali