Landmark Sexual Harassment Conviction in Egypt
Thursday, November 13, 2008 2:00 PM

In late October, Egypt convicted a man for publicly groping and harassing a woman. The Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights reports that this is the first known time a man has been jailed for public groping, which they call a “social cancer” because of its pervasiveness in Egyptian society. The organization published a survey earlier this year which found that as many as 98% of female tourists and 83% of Egyptian women have experienced unprovoked public sexual harassment in Egypt.

The woman, 27-year-old filmmaker Noha al-Ustazi, who is also known as Noha Rushdi Saleh, was repeatedly and aggressively groped by Sherif Goma'a as she walked along a street in Cairo. She immediately went to the police, but they refused to let her file charges unless she brought her attacker to the station. Saleh found Goma'a and argued with him until he accompanied her to the station, where she charged him with assault. He was convicted and sentenced to three years’ hard labor and fined 5,001 Egyptian pounds ($895).

The decision in this case marks a sharp change in the government's response to such cases. In 2006, the Egyptian Government denied that cases involving public sexual harassment by up to 150 boys even occured.

Many Egyptian women take this verdict as a sign of positive change. This decision has served as a catalyst for Egyptian women to freely speak out about this problem.

Compiled from:

Feminist Majority Foundation, Feminist Daily News Wire, Egypt Finally Convicts a Sexual Harasser (28 October 2008).

Mayton, Joseph, Egyptian Gets Jail for Sex Assault in Milestone Case, in Middle East Times (22 October 2008).