Human Rights Watch condemned in a statement “horrific levels” of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square. “Egyptian anti-sexual harassment groups confirmed that mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square, over four days of protests beginning on June 30, 2013, amid a climate of impunity”, said Human Rights Watch.
“The rampant sexual attacks during the Tahrir Square protests highlight the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis in public spaces,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development.”
The Egyptian government’s response has typically been to downplay the extent of the problem or to seek to address it through legislative reform alone. What is needed are concerted efforts to improve law enforcement’s practice in protecting victims and effectively investigating and prosecuting the attackers, as well as a comprehensive national strategy on the part of the government, Human Rights Watch said.
Since November 2011, police have stayed away from Tahrir Square during bigger protests, to avoid clashes with protesters. This has left women protesters unprotected, and the men involved in the gang attacks and rapes secure in the knowledge that they will not be arrested or identified by police, Human Rights Watch said.