Egyptian Court Condemns Tahrir Square Sexual Assaults With Seven Life Sentences

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An Egyptian judge has sentenced seven men to life in prison for sexually assaulting women during public rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

The sentences – the first of their kind – were for four different incidents of sexual assault and were televised nationally. One charge stemmed from the inaugural celebrations last month for Egypt president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, where the mass attacks sparked a rare national discussion on sexual violence after an amateur video uploaded to YouTube showed a mass rape of a 19-year-old woman

El-Sisi had pledged during his campaign he would "vigorously enforce the law and take all necessary measures to combat sexual harassment, an unacceptable form of conduct, alien to the best principles of Egyptian culture." He followed through on the eve of his inauguration, when his government amended the penal code by adding a broader definition of sexual harassment, as well as longer jail terms and harsher fines for attackers. 

Egypt has seen a rise in mass sexual assault in the country in recent years. During the 2011 revolution, CBS correspondent Lara Logan was assaulted. Between November 2012 and January 2014, advocacy group Nazra for Feminist Studies found more than 250 cases of assault at public gatherings, and a 2013 UN report found that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, making Egypt the worst country in the Arab world for women.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.