Egyptian jailed three years for groping

British Embassy says it received 14 complaints of rape and harrassment in Sharm El-Sheikh in one month.
Egyptian jailed three years for groping
Tue 21 Oct 2008 11:13 PM

An Egyptian judge on Tuesday sentenced a man to three years in jail with hard labour for groping a woman on a Cairo street, a judicial source said.

Sherif Gomaa was also ordered to pay his victim, 27-year-old Egyptian filmmaker Noha Rashid Saleh, 5,001 Egyptian pounds ($894) in compensation.

The sentencing was unusual for its severity, a women's rights activist said.

"This is the first case we know of, where someone was jailed for groping," said Engy Ghozlan, an activist with the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR).

"We welcome the ruling. The judge was obviously setting an example."

The defendant was accused of repeatedly groping the victim from his car as he drove slowly alongside her as she walked down the street. The victim held on to his car's side-mirror until she persuaded him to go to a police station, local media reported.

This summer, ECWR issued a survey saying 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt had experienced sexual harassment.

The study said only 12 percent of the 2,500 women who reported cases of sexual harassment to ECWR went to the police with their complaint.

It is "a total lack of confidence in the police and judicial systems," Ghozlan said.

A British embassy official, speaking on background, told newswire AFP the embassy had received 14 complaints of sexual harassment and rape during a one-month-period this year in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

There were two complaints during the same period last year, the official said. "It does seem there is an increase. I don't know whether it because more people are reporting it, or because there are more assaults."

The official said Egyptian police had visited the United Kingdom last year to receive training on handling sexual assault cases, and that British police were expected to visit Egypt later this year to continue the training.

The Egyptian tourist ministry claimed sexual harassment was not especially common in Egypt. "I'm not denying there is a problem, but it happens anywhere," said spokeswoman Heba El-Khatib.

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