Human Rights Monitor lodged a complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression about a heinous crime, which is sexual harassment against a female student in Assiut University, during a security attack on several universities in Egypt.
In effect, security forces have attacked university campuses using firearms, bird shots and tear gas canisters, arrested students, violated their rights and bodies, and sexually harassed female students as a means of threatening and punishing them.
On Tuesday October 15th, 2014, two girls were subjected to sexual harassment inside the Assiut University campus by members of administrative security. We received a complaint from one of them – refusing to reveal her identity to the media – claiming that she was exposed to a sexual harassment incident by one of the administrative security members in Assiut University, who had severely beaten her and threatened her to repeat the act again, and the testimony goes as follows:
“After attacking a students’ protest and dispersing it, a member of the administrative security, next to the Faculty of Sciences’ cafeteria specifically, attacked a female student with a baton, and kept beating her until she fell on the floor, and when she stood up, he sexually assaulted her by grabbing and touching sensitive parts of her body. As she was trying to stop him he repeated it all over again, and beat her sensitive parts, so she called a man for help, but he simply refused her call and said that it was none of his business, so she asked the security member to stop but his answer was: “Are you going to shut up or shall I repeat that again?”. Her friends tried to calm her down and took her away from him, and he left as if nothing had happened.”
A testimony by the assaulted girl was also documented through a video showing the incident, as the girl’s talk was brief and intermittent because of her psychological state and her consistent crying. In addition to this, other eye witnesses’ statements which were documented matched her testimony. It is noteworthy that the girl has been suffering from a psychological and nervous shock ever since.
Furthermore, another terrible sexual harassment incident had taken place against a female student, who refused to talk about it neither to media nor human rights organizations, because of her psychological state, whereas there were news about a similar incident in Alexandria University, which means that it has become a normal and systematized act for the security forces to terrorize students and prevent them from expressing their opinions, and from participating in any student or political activities.
Rape or sexual harassment has become a phenomenon in the Egyptian society. It happens during protests, demonstrations or festivities, as a result to the absence of punishment, which in fact contradicts the international conventions on women’s rights, and particularly that on the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
It should be noted that there are other instances which were documented by other organizations, including 5 five cases of rape submitted to the UN by Human Rights Monitor. In all those cases offenders were security members, and all took place during the period of detention of those girls.
Human Rights Monitor urges the Egyptian authorities to take serious actions towards ending crimes of sexual harassment and rape inside prisons, detention centers and public places. The government must open serious investigations immediately into these crimes in order to bring those accountable to justice, and to impose severe punishments for these serious crimes, in order to put an end to the phenomenon of impunity, since it causes more sexual violations against women to spread and increase.