Several arrested as sexual harassment surges in Cairo

Vice police have detected numerous instances of sexual harassment on the first two days of the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday at several public areas in Cairo, the state-run news agency MENA reported.

At the Giza Zoo, young people who formed groups to protect females from harassment were assaulted by the harassers, which caused violence to break out between both sides. Police arrested several and referred them to prosecution.

The website of the independent daily Al-Tahrir said Tuesday that several women were heard yelling on the Nile Corniche in front of the State TV building. It added that the same area on Monday had witnessed fights as some youth, and even children, allegedly molested female passers-by.

Fustat Garden also saw tussles as hundreds of young men encircled a number of girls and attempted to assault them before others managed to free them.

Eyewitnesses said that motorbike riders on Gameat al-Dawal al-Arabiya, a popular gathering place, harassed girls amid a total absence of police.

Other eyewitnesses said some young men harassed girls in Tahrir Square on Sunday and Monday, which triggered verbal altercations.

Several organized popular initiatives to counter harassment on the holiday and to promote awareness of the dangers of sexual harassment.

The Imprint Movement, one of the initiatives, described Eid al-Fitr as a "season for harassment," citing collective harassment incidents that had been detected during that period over the past years.

Organizers said on their Facebook page that a task force of 15 people, in addition to 40 volunteers, have been stationed at subway stations both inside trains and platforms.

In 2008, a detailed study about sexual harassment was published by the local watchdog Egyptian Center for Women's Rights. It said that nearly two-thirds of Egyptian men admitted to having sexually harassed women.

"Sexual harassment has become an overwhelming and very real problem experienced by all women in Egyptian society, often on a daily basis," said the center, adding that only 2.4 percent of Egyptian women reported it to the police. Most said they did not believe anyone would help.

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