Egypt’s parliament on Sunday voted in favour of a draft law that makes sexual assault a criminal offence and will impose tougher penalties for sexual harassment crimes.
Female politicians have welcomed the new bill as “a leap forward”.
Parliament Speaker, Hanafy Gebaly said the new bill will be referred to the State Council to be revised in legislative and constitutional terms. “The prosecution-general will make sure that offenders are referred to trial,” Gebaly added.
But After seven years of implementation, Article 306 of the 1937 Penal Code amended in 2014 to toughen penalties on sexual harassment crimes “were not enough to stem the tide of sexual harassment crimes,” a report prepared by the House’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee said.
The amended Article 306 (Paragraph A) states that “whoever is convicted of assaulting others in public or private places in the form of sexual or pornographic gestures and insinuations, either in words or actions or virtually, will be sentenced to a prison term ranging from two to four years and a fine ranging from EGP 100,000 to EGP 200,000.”
The amended Article 306 (Paragraph B) stipulates sets out that “offenders whose circumstances allow them to have a professional, familial, or academic authority over a victim, or otherwise exercise any kind of pressure to allow them to commit their crime, will be sentenced to a prison term no less than seven years and a fine between EGP 300,000 and EGP 500,000.” The same penalty will be imposed if the sexual harassment crime was committed by two persons or more and one of them was holding a weapon.
The minimum jail term would be increased to 18 months.
Incidents of gender-based violence rose significantly last year in Egypt, with NGOs reporting more than 400 rapes and an escalation of domestic violence.