[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced nine men to prison for participating in mob sexual assaults in Tahrir Square during celebrations for the inauguration of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile]. The ruling comes a month after el-Sisi called for action to combat the rash of sexual assaults [Ahram Online report] that has plagued the country since the 2011 ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive]. Interim president Adly Mansour [BBC profile] issued a decree criminalizing sexual harassment [Al Jazeera report] in June, just days before el-Sisi was inaugurated. Seven of the men were sentenced to life imprisonment under the new law, and the remaining two received 20-year sentences.
Sexual assaults have been common through Egypt since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder], with more than 500 incidents since 2011 [Al Jazeera report]. According to a 2013 survey [text, PDF] conducted by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women [official website], more than 99 percent of women in Egypt have faced some form of sexual harassment. More than 90 percent of the study’s respondents stated that enacting laws with severe penalization was the most effective way to deal with the sexual assault epidemic. A number of women’s advocacy groups have formed [Daily News Egypt report] to protect female protesters, spread awareness and help women who have been harassed during protests.