Egypt discusses draft law for tougher sexual harassment punishment

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Sun, 11 Jul 2021 - 12:20 GMT

No for Harassment Cartoon - File

No for Harassment Cartoon - File

CAIRO – 11 July 2021: Egyptian House of Representatives discussed this week a report released by the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee regarding a draft law submitted by 61 MPs to toughen harassment punishment in law.

 

Member of Parliament Ashraf Rashad and 60 others (more than one-tenth of the parliament’s members) to amend some provisions of the Penal Code regarding the punishment of sexual harassment.

 

The committee stressed that the draft law was in accordance with the constitution, especially Article 10 of it, which states that the family is the foundation of the society, based on religion, morals and patriotism, and the state is keen on its cohesion, stability and the consolidation of its values, as well as the state’s commitment to protect women against all forms of violence.

 

The committee pointed out that the draft law came as a result of what the current situation result in negativities due to lack of some legal texts that deter the crime of harassment.

 

The amendments harshened the imprisonment term and the fine imposed on the offenders.

 

The amendments:

 

The amendments extended to Article 306 bis b, which stipulates that if the crime explained in Article 306 bis a of the law was committed with the intention of the offender to obtain a sexual benefit from the victim, then this is considered sexual harassment act. The perpetrator will be punished by imprisonment of no less than five years and a fine no less than L.E. 200,000 and not exceeding L.E. 300,000, or with both penalties.  

 

If the offender was one of those stipulated in the second paragraph of Article 267 of this law, or had an occupational, family, or educational authority over the victim, or exercised any pressure on the victim, or if the crime was committed by two or more persons, or at least one of them was carrying a weapon, then the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than seven years and a fine of no less than L.E. 300,000 pounds and not more than L.E. 500,000.

 

The current law:

 

Article 306 (a) of the Penal Code states that the accused shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than six months, and a fine of no less than three thousand pounds, and not more than 5,000 pounds, or either of both penalties, whoever commit sexual innuendo or insinuations, whether by gesture, word, or action, or by any means, including online means.

 

The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and a fine of no less than five thousand pounds and not more than ten thousand pounds, and one of these two penalties if the act is repeated by the offender through stalking and tracking the victim, and if the offender carries a weapon, the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than two years. It does not exceed five years and the fine is not less than twenty thousand pounds and not more than fifty thousand pounds.

 

Standing up against harassment, sexual assault

 

There has been an awakening movement in the Egyptian society as many victims of harassment and rape rose to reveal their stories, and send assaulters to prison. 

 

The government has also moved against such assaults boldly in the recent years, harshening the legal punishment on harassers and protecting women's rights. The social media has also played an effective and prominent role in emboldening women to report their cases.

 

In July, the Egyptian government ratified a draft law that guarantees the secrecy of testimonies made by victims of harassment, rape and sexual assault.

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