On June 27, 2020, the Legislative and Constitutional Committee of the Egyptian Council of Representatives (parliament) approved a draft law amending provisions of Law No. 58 of 1937 on the Penal Code that sanction the crime of sexual harassment. The new amendment applies to article 306 duplicate and article 267 of the Penal Code, enhancing the penalty for the crime and changing its classification from a misdemeanor to a felony.
According to the committee’s head, Ibrahim Heneidy, the draft law aims at combating what has become a serious problem troubling Egyptian society that requires a multipronged approach to confront—especially legislation to punish the crime.
Provisions of the New Amendment
The current version of article 306 (a) duplicate stipulates that anyone who exposes others in either a public or private place to sexual or pornographic acts, insinuations, or hints, whether by signs, words, actions, or any other means, including wired or wireless means, is punishable by imprisonment for not less than six months, a fine equivalent to about US$191 to $318, or both. Article 306 (a) duplicate in the new draft law defines the crime in the same way, adding “electronic communication methods” to the means of harassing someone sexually, and markedly increases the punishment to a minimum of two and a maximum of four years’ imprisonment, a fine equivalent to about US$6,357 to $12,713, or both.
Under the current version of the law, a repetition of the crime is punishable by imprisonment for less than a year and/or a fine equivalent to about US$318 to $636. If the offender repeats the same offense again, the punishments of imprisonment and fine are doubled in both their minimum and maximum forms. Under the new amendment, a repetition of the crime incurs the enhanced penalties of three to five years’ imprisonment, a fine equivalent to about US$12,713 to $19,070, or both. If the offender repeats the same offense again, the punishments of imprisonment and fine are doubled in both their minimum and maximum forms.
Furthermore, the new amendment of article 306 (b) duplicate provides that if the offender commits the acts cited in article 306 (a) of the law with the intention of obtaining a sexual benefit from the victim, the punishment provided for in the current version of the law—two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine equivalent to about US$1,271 to $3,178—is increased to not less than five years in prison, a fine equivalent to about US$12,713 to $19,070, or both.The draft law also includes a new amendment to the second paragraph of article 267 of the Penal Code. It imposes relatively more severe penalties if a person who has familial, professional, or academic authority over a victim acts in any manner to pressure the victim to have a sexual intercourse, if two or more persons commit the aforementioned crime, or if the offender uses a weapon while committing the crime. In any such instance, the applicable penalty, which under the current regime is two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine equivalent to about US$1,271 to $3,178, would be at least seven years imprisonment and a fine equivalent to about US$22,248 to $31,783.