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Egyptians Arrested And Harassed At Rally Against Sexual Harassment

A rally against sexual harassment ended with police arresting two members of anti-harassment group or unlawful protest, and two men arrested for harassing women at the protest. Egyptian women spoke to BuzzFeed about what they think should be done to protect them.

Posted on June 15, 2014, at 8:14 a.m. ET

Egyptian activists held a rally against sexual harassment Saturday evening. But once more, they found themselves under attack. An AP photographer captured this image, of police ogling a young woman as she walked to the rally.

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

The officers were deployed to secure the protest against sexual harassment. The sign on the police van reads, in Arabic: "Your security is our duty, your safety is our target."

Dozens gathered in Cairo and held signs calling for an end to harassment. Police initially stood by and then arrested two protesters for unlawful demonstrations under a new law in Egypt banning unapproved protests.

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

One of the groups that helped organize the rally confirmed the arrests of two of their members. They said the two were holding signs against police harassment.

.@HermasFawzy @Naderism spend 2nite in custody 4 hold'g state accountbl 4 #SexualViolence & fighting 4 right 2 safe st's & dignity of body


.@HermasFawzy @Naderism spend 2nite in custody 4 hold'g state accountbl 4 #SexualViolence & fighting 4 right 2 safe st's & dignity of body

11:44 PM - 14 Jun 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Police also arrested two men who harassed women at the rally.

Police arresting a man accused of harassment at #womensprotest

ارون Aaron T. Rose@Aaron_T_Rose

Police arresting a man accused of harassment at #womensprotest

6:35 PM - 14 Jun 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Sexual harassment and assault in Egypt have become endemic, according to human rights groups. In a recent survey by the UN, over 99% of Egyptian women said they had faced harassment at one point in their lives.

AP Photo/Ahmed Abd El Latif

Calls for Egypt to tackle its sexual harassment problem have risen in recent weeks, spurred, in part, by a spate of attacks on women during festivities in Tahrir Square for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's inauguration.

At least five women were attacked, according to women's rights groups in Egypt, and a graphic video uploaded to Twitter showing one of the attacks went viral in Egypt.

Sisi has taken a strong public stance against the harassment, staging his first photo-op as president at the bedside of one of the women who has attacked. In a video released by State Media, Sisi took responsibility for her attack, and vowed that he would use his office to crack down on harassment.

Egyptian prosecutors say they have already referred 13 men to trial for alleged attacks on women last week. The 13 accused, including a minor, are charged with “kidnapping, raping, sexually attacking, attempting to murder and torturing the women,” said a statement from the prosector's office. If convicted of the charges, the defendants could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Egyptian women still feel that too little is being done. Several spoke to BuzzFeed from this week's protests, and said what they would do to stop sexual harassment and assault.

Israa Ashour, a 26-year-old film maker, said she wanted Egyptian authorities to institute a harsher punishment for sexual harassment, such as a 15-year prison sentence.

Alaa Mousa, 23, said men should experience what they do to women. "If a man rapes a woman, he should be raped. Not only that but he should then be insulting by having them film it and upload it to the internet."

Rasha Sultan, 24, said "castration or execution" was the only way to punish men who raped women. "You can't imagine how difficult it is to be a woman here in this country."

Shook Ali, 46, moved to Egypt from the Emirates 22 years ago. "Egypt wasn't like this before," she said. "If the government really wanted to stop rape, they should do what we do [in the Emirates], cutting off part of his ear to shame him for life."

Souad Soliman said the Egyptian government should admit that rape, assault, and harassment of women are endemic. "Egypt is not safe for women," she said. "We have to be touch, we should cut off the organs [of those who rape]."