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Egypt passes new law protecting victims of sexual abuse

Photo Credit: Al Jazeera - Photo of International Women's Day in Egypt

Egypt approved a new law on Tuesday, protecting the identity of victims of sexual harassment and abuse in a move aimed to reduce the social stigma of reporting such crimes.

The Egyptian government has faced recent pressure to act after hundreds of women have started to speak up on social media about sexual assault in Egypt.

The new law will give victims the automatic rights to anonymity, banning investigative authorities from disclosing information about victims in such crimes, except to defendants or their lawyers.

“When we observed that there is a reluctance to report specific crimes... and that some of the victims feared for their reputation from being named in such crimes, the government submitted a bill to encourage citizens to report these crimes,” Justice Minister Omar Marwan told parliament on Sunday. 

Last month Marwan had charged Ahmed Bassam Zaki, a university student from a wealthy background, who was arrested and accused of raping and blackmailing multiple women.

The case drew widespread attention in social media campaigns, attention from the media, religious figures and women’s rights groups, which eventually pressured Egyptian authorities into arresting Zaki.

Read more Reuters, The National, and Human Rights Watch

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