UN Women calls for firmer stance on sexual harassment

A United Nations women's rights group has expressed concern over reports of increasing cases of sexual harassment against women in public places in Egypt.

Lakshmi Puri, acting head of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (otherwise known as UN Women), said in a Wednesday statement: "UN Women adds its voice to calls on all parties to take a firm stand and show zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women and girls.”

“Egypt’s women have the right to fully participate in political dialogue without fear or threat of violence. Their voices are essential to a peaceful and prosperous Egypt,” the statement said.

Puri referred to the fact that Egyptian women have been a key voice in Egypt's civil society.

Women's participation in public life is a must in democracy in Egypt, the statement added.

Human Rights Watch and other Egyptian rights groups declared that at least 91 women were sexually harassed by mobs in four days in Tahrir Square protests that started on 30 June, amid a climate of impunity.

“Egyptian officials and political leaders across the spectrum should condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square,” a report by HRW said.

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