Target: Adly Mansour, interim President of Egypt
Goal: Praise Mansour for finally declaring sexual harassment a crime in Egypt
Egyptian women reported a huge increase in sexual harassment during the 2011 political unrest that ousted then-President Hosni Mubarak. It was not unheard of for mobs to attack women participating in the protests, sometimes to frighten them into staying home. And at the time there was no way for these women to seek justice. Sexual harassment was not even considered a crime.
Egypt’s political climate has seen little calm since. Mohamed Morsi followed Mubarak but served as president for little more than a year before being thrown out in a coup. He was then replaced by interim President Adly Mansour who has led the country since July, 2013. Acting President Mansour will soon step down following a round of democratic elections; he did not run for office. But before leaving he upheld a decree that would make sexual harassment a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $7,000 in fines, according to Al Jazeera. Those carrying weapons, in official uniforms or holding other power over their victims would receive the harshest sentences under the new law.
The United Nations reports that more than 99% of all Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment or abuse. Clearly the time is long overdue for the nation’s courts to begin prosecuting these crimes and send a message to would-be assailants that harassment is unacceptable. Applaud interim President Mansour for standing up for the safety and dignity of all women.
Dear interim President Mansour,
Your recent approval of a decree criminalizing sexual harassment is truly worth celebrating. When nearly every Egyptian woman will experience sexual harassment or abuse in her lifetime it is obscene to think that the nation’s courts didn’t even consider harassment a crime–until now.
There is every reason to believe that this new law will improve the lives of women in your country. If even the courts fail to recognize the seriousness of sexual harassment what is to stop would-be assailants from taking advantage of the law? The threat of prison time and fines, combined with a committed education campaign, will help reduce instances of sexual harassment in Egypt and may even help save lives.
Your nation’s women have been instrumental in fighting for change, demanding justice and freedom from oppression. To see their participation in this struggle used as justification for harassment has been deeply disturbing. I am grateful that this tragedy is finally being addressed, in large part because of you. Thank you for standing up for the safety and human rights of all Egyptian women.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Lilian Wagdy via Flickr