Have you ever been harassed either on the street, in public transportation, or at the office? Do you ever wonder how Egyptian laws protect your rights and freedom when it comes to matters of harassment? We are here for you and we will aim to explain the definition of sexual harassment pursuant to the Egyptian Law and what are the penalties for each type of harassment. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality 1 reported that an estimated of 99.3% of Egyptian women said they faced some form of sexual violence. It’s also acknowledged that over 62% of Egyptian men admitted harassing women, and 53% of Egyptian men have blamed women for “bringing it on.” Whether the harassment was intended to be comical or aggressive, the outcome is the same, the aggressor surpasses their right and interacts
inappropriate or without consent of the victim. Harassment cases occur across all age groups and social-economic levels. They occur while crossing the street, filing papers at the office or even at social gatherings. In recent years we have seen the rise of the #MeToo movement and how it has changed the conversation regarding the abuse that both women and some men face and struggle to talk about. A current infamous case was of shamed
Egyptian footballer when an Egyptian-British model alleged that the footballer had sent her inappropriate and aggressive messages. A slew of more women then contacted her telling her that they too had received unwanted and inappropriate messages from the footballer. In the past, some argued that messages can be seen as harmless as there is no physical altercation to be reported. However, this is not the case, and Egyptian law states that
clearly as per article 306 of The Egyptian Penal code. The Egyptian Penal Law explains the foregoing question through its 306 the article (sub-paragraphs (a) and (b)) that stipulates for the following:“(a) the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period that shall not be less than 6 months and a fine that shall not be less than three-thousand Egyptian Pounds and no more than five-thousand Egyptian Pounds, or one of the aforementioned penalties for anyone who commits the following to third parties, whether in a public, private or closed-door area, committing any sexual acts or innuendos, whether through verbal or physical acts or signals, through any means including but
not limited to wired and wireless communication methods. The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period that shall not be less than 1 year and a fine that shall not be less than five-thousand Egyptian Pounds and no more than ten-thousand Egyptian Pounds or one of the foregoing penalties if the act was repeated by the culprit through following the victim. In case of recidivism (repetition of the crime), the minimum and maximum limit of both penalties (imprisonment and fines) shall be doubled.“(b) it is considered sexual harassment to commit the crime stipulated for in article 306 (a) of this law, aiming to obtain a benefit of a sexual nature from the victim, and the culprit shall be punished by imprisonment for a period that shall not be less than 1 year and a fine that shall not be less than ten-thousand Egyptian Pounds and no more than twenty-thousand Egyptian Pounds or one of the
aforementioned penalties. If the culprit was one of those stipulated for in the second paragraph of the article (267) of this law (which stipulates for “if victim was younger than 18 calendar years, or if the culprit was one of the ancestors, caretakers, guardians of the victim, or a person that has any authority over the victim, or was her or any of the foregoing’s
servant”), or had any authority whether related to the job, family or educational over the victim, had exploited any pressure that was enabled by the circumstances, or if the crime was committed by two or more culprits provided that at least one of them was carrying a weapon, the penalty shall then be imprisonment for a period that shall not be less than 2 years and not more than 5 years, and a fine that shall not be less than twenty-thousand Egyptian Pounds, and no more than fifty-thousand Egyptian
Pounds.”Referring back to the footballer-model case that took place on a social media platform, when implementing article 306, verbal sexual harassment in not limited to the world off the internet. Verbal harassment and/or sexual harassment is defined as occurring through the use of words or through stalking, using gestures or even through innovative resources of communication such as a phone or on the internet or any other channel in which actions that carry sexual or pornographic hints can be relayed. Hiding behind a phone, computer, desk or even the car window does not excuse the
abuse or legitimize it. Dar al-Iftaa, the official Islamic Legal Institution for issuing fatwas said in a Facebook statement that “Sexual harassment is committed only by those with sick souls and despicable passions who direct their desire toward degeneracy in the mud of lust, acting in an animalistic manner without any mental or human control.” Moreover, Al-Azhar which is
considered as the highest religious institution for Sunni Muslim denounced sexual harassment, emphasizing that acts of harassments and their harassers must be criminalized and punishments must be absolute, no matter the circumstance or setting. They went even a step further to state that validating the act of harassment because of the appearance or actions of the female victim conveys imprudent thoughts, for harassment, is an assault on the victims freedom but also an infringement on their privacy and dignity 2 .
In light of the above-mentioned articles, if you or anyone you know has suffered/ been subjected to any sort of harassment, do not hesitate in reporting it. Secure any kind of proof, whether witnesses or any proof you could muster. Do not shy away from shining a light on those who exploit
or took advantage of a situation. Head to the nearest police department and file minutes documenting the incident so that the culprits face their punishment. In case you have any enquiries, do not hesitate to contact us, our team is always ready to help. Stay safe and raise your voice, knowing the law is there to protect.