Mass arrests follow shocking mob assault on Egyptian woman over miniskirt

Mass arrests follow shocking mob assault on Egyptian woman over miniskirt
Dozens have been arrested as Egypt's police launch an investigation into a mob sexual assault on a young woman in Mansoura caught on video.
3 min read
02 January, 2020
Sexual harassment has plagued Egypt's streets for years but is increasingly caught on camera [Getty]
Egyptian authorities have arrested dozens of young men following the circulation of a shocking video showing a crowd of men harassing a woman in Mansoura after New Years' Eve celebrations.

The woman was allegedly attacked due to her wearing a short skirt while walking home with a friend after the evening's festivities.

The video, which was verified by police on Thursday, shows several dozen men pushing around the young woman, who is screaming and clearly distressed, dressed in a black miniskirt and fur coat.

Some men are shown waving sticks and jumping on top of a car in which the woman eventually escaped. A handful of men helped get her into the vehicle so she could flee the assault in the Nile Delta city in the early hours of Wednesday.

Egypt's security forces have so far arrested 17 people suspected of being involved in the attack, and have questioned over 20 people who live and work near to the scene, as part of a wide-ranging probe into the incident.

Witnesses told local media that men started to verbally harass the woman as she walked down a street near Mansoura University, causing her to seek refuge in a nearby shop.

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However a crowd of men began to gather outside the shop, quarrelling with the shop's owner until he forced the girl out so the mob would not storm the store.

Witnesses added that the woman attempted to hail a taxi but was blocked by the mob and separated from her friend.

The woman has not yet been identified, but police are investigating surveillance camera footage and tracing the car.

The hashtag #MansouraGirl circulated social media on Thursday following the outrage over the video.

Warning: This video contains footage of sexual harassment which some readers may find distressing

Street sexual harassment has persisted as a major concern for women in Egypt, however the prevalence of social media and smartphones has meant an increasing number of attacks have been caught on tape since the 2000s.

According to surveys, Egyptian women feel unsafe in the streets, and cases of street harassment were especially prevalent during protests of 2011 and 2013.

However polls indicate that most men and women in the conservative country believe harassment is justified if women dress "provocatively" in public.

Egypt hardened its sexual harassment laws in 2014. As well as a broader definition of harassment, it is now punishable by up to five years in prison.

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However rights groups complain that authorities still aren't doing enough to combat the problem, as most women remain reluctant to report harassment for fear of stigmatisation.

"Can the Egyptian officials please stop denying the existence of sexual harassment in Egypt?" posted Amel Fahmy, a women's rights activist, on social media on Thursday. 

The video "shows the sick mindset that leads to such sexual harassment/assaults," tweeted activist Soraya Bahgat, who founded an anti-harassment group Tahrir Bodyguard in 2012 for women at political protests.

"Our fight is far from over," she added.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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