Egypt: Women Sexually Assaulted at March Against Sexual Harassment

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Despite the many reported incidents and promises of investigations, activists say there is a culture of impunity that surrounds sexual harassment. "There is no political will to punish anybody, whether civilians or members of the armed forces who are supposed to protect people," said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. "This signals that the state doesn't prioritize combating violence against women and that it is acceptable". The "virginity tests" of 2011 were the only alleged incidents of abuse to have been investigated and the alleged perpetrators were officially exonerated.

Yet while accountability is lacking, activists note that the revolution has made people more likely to speak up and report incidents. But Engy Ghozlan, who co-founded HarassMap, a website that uses crowdsourcing to map incidents of sexual harassment in Cairo, acknowledges that they are fighting entrenched behavior. "In our society," said Ghozland, "men [need to] understand that my presence as a woman is acceptable and not an attack on them. This cannot be achieved by a president or one person. It is a very long-term process."

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