Sexual harassment is a crime according to Egyptian law. Harassers can, should, and have been charged based on articles 306 (a) and 306 (b) of the Penal Code. According to the law, verbal, behavioral, phone and online sexual harassment will attract a prison sentence of 6 months – 5 years, and up to LE 50,000 in fines.
Read the full text of the law here.
The new sexual harassment offenses are there for us to use. No law, even the best one, is effective unless it is used and implemented well. In the past, laws have not been well enforced, and this has helped to create the idea that sexual harassment is not really a crime. It is. This is why HarassMap believes that we need to build a strong social consensus against sexual harassment, so that everyone sees it as a crime that a harasser should be punished for. If bystanders and police continue to make excuses for harassers and blame the harassed, not even the best law will ever be enforced.
So know these laws, intervene to help people who have been harassed and use the law to make sure that harassers are held responsible for their crimes.
The Penal Code also includes Article 278 against public indecency, sometimes used for sexual harassment, and Articles 267 and 268 that can be used for physical sexual harassment, and other crimes of sexual violence, such as rape and sexual assault.
The problem with these offences is two-fold: 1) they lack a good enforcement mechanism, and 2) they are both vague and limited in their definition of the crimes they refer to. Article 268 refers to violation of ‘decency’ or ‘honor’ rather than explicit physical sexual assault, and article 267 pertains to only vaginal rape with a penis. Mob assault, anal rape, and rape with objects, among other forms of sexual violence, are not properly criminalized by these laws.
There have been many efforts over the years to push for stricter and more comprehensive laws for crimes of sexual violence that would incorporate everything from sexual harassment to rape. Check out a good draft law here.