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Egypt: MPs pass bill to give women anonymity in sexual abuse cases

Egypt: MPs pass bill to give women anonymity in sexual abuse cases

Egypt moves to encourage women to report sexual crimes. The MPS have passed a bill on Sunday to protect the identity of women who come forward to report sexual harassment or assault, The National reported.

Following hundreds of women have started to speak up on social media about sexual assault in a #MeToo movement in Egypt, the parliament approved a new law on Sunday. The bill aimed at protecting the identity of women who report sexual assault, abuse or harassment.

That Egyptian parliament move should encourage women and girls to report cases of sexual violence. So far, thousands of such cases remain underreported.

The recently passed bill will give victims the automatic right to anonymity. For hundreds of women, that gives a chance to start to speak up on social media about sexual assault, said female parliamentarian Ghada Ghareeb. According to her, the law was a step “in a long road of issuing regulations that preserve women’s rights”.

“The government had noticed that there was a sharp decline in women being able to report cases of sexual assault they have been subjected to because they fear of social stigma,” Ms Ghareeb added.

According to her, the approval of the law would increase reporting of sexual assaults in the coming months in Egypt, the country with conservative social values.

The bill was approved by the cabinet early in July and submitted to parliament after being presented by the Justice Ministry.

#MeeToo movement in Egypt is getting stronger

Approving a bill followed a widely-published case in July of a university student from a wealthy background who was arrested and accused of raping and blackmailing multiple women. The police continue investigations.

The case triggered a #MeToo wave in Egypt with the National Council for Women saying it received at least 400 complaints, mainly about violence against women within five days of the case being made public. In addition, the debates escalated further after an Instagram page revealed a gang rape case in a Cairo hotel, with the six men involved believed to be from rich respectable families.

The state-run National Council for Women said it stood beside every woman and girl who was exposed to any form of threat by providing the necessary support. Now, the official reporting mechanisms allow women coming forward to both the council and the public prosecution and to report the incident quickly.