Egypt anger over ‘grope attacks’
Protesters want senior government figures to admit responsibility
Hundreds of Egyptians have staged an angry protest against the alleged sexual harassment of female activists and reporters by government supporters.
A number of women say they were assaulted by loyalists from the party of President Hosni Mubarak during voting on a referendum last week.
Dressed in black and wearing white ribbons, the women called for senior officials to resign in shame.
Egypt’s government has blamed the assaults on “emotional tension”.
But the crowds outside Egypt’s Press Syndicate building were resolute, calling for the resignation of senior government officials, including interior minister Habib al-Adli.
“Violating the dignity of women is like violating that of our country,” one banner read.
If only the Japanese people would react so swiftly to combat sexual assault!
‘Battlefield of shame’
Anger has grown after opposition activists and female journalists were groped and physically assaulted during protests against a referendum designed to approve multi-candidate presidential elections later this year.
Opponents of Mr Mubarak say the referendum was flawed and say the measures will not bring about real democratic change.
Clashes broke out on polling day and a number of women have since complained to police about incidents of groping, harassment and assault by men suspected of being government supporters.
Police and security forces reportedly stood around as plain clothed men attacked the women, some shouting orders during the assaults.
“They didn’t do anything to stop it. They pushed the guys around the women, they tore their clothes apart, they were completely naked in the streets,” one woman at Wednesday’s demonstration told the BBC.
Galal Aref, head of Egypt’s journalists’ organisation, the Press Syndicate, said the assaults were a “black day” for Egypt.
“We’re determined to take to justice all those that participated in this crime,” she added.
In an official statement sent to Mr Mubarak, a coalition of Arab and Egyptian human rights organisations called on the president to investigate the assaults and punish those responsible for what they described as a “battlefield of shame”.