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Egypt: Rape and Sexual Assault Suspects Referred to Criminal Court

(June 19, 2014) On June 12, 2014, Egypt’s General Prosecutor ordered the referral of seven individual suspects for trial before the Criminal Court of Cairo, on charges of rape and sexual assault. The authorities had arrested those individuals after they obtained a video showing a mass sexual assault on women that took place during the inaugural celebrations for the new President of Egypt. If convicted, the alleged perpetrators could face long-term imprisonment. (Seven Individuals Referred by the Prosecution for Sexual Assault [in Arabic], AL YOUM (June 14, 2014).)

In the beginning of June, the Egyptian President enhanced the penalties for crimes of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Presidential Decree No. 50 of 2014 modifies articles 306(bis)(a) and 306(bis)(b) of the Penal Code by creating new penalties against the act of sexual harassment and increasing existing penalties against sexual assault. (Presidential Decree No. 50 of 2014 [in Arabic], 23(bis) AL-JARIDA AL-RASMIYYA (June 5, 2014), Cassation Court website.)

Article 306(bis)(a) provides that individuals who carry out sexual or obscene gestures in any manner, including by modern means of communication, will be punished with a term of imprisonment of not less than six months or a fine of EGP3,000 (about US$419). Article 306(bis)(a) states that if the act of sexual harassment is repeated by the same individual, the punishment of imprisonment will be increased to one year and the fine to EGP5,000-10,000(about US$700-1,400). (Id.)

Article 306(bis)(b) states that if the harassment is done with the intent of receiving sexual gratification from the victim, the punishment will be a term of imprisonment of not less than one year and a fine of EGP10,000-20,000. Moreover, any individual who uses duress to receive sexual gratification will be punished with a term of imprisonment of between two and five years and a fine of EGP20,000-50,000. (Id.)