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Egypt jails seven for life over Tahrir Square sexual assaults

© Khaled Depardon, AFP file photo | Cairo demonstration against sexual violence

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-16

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced seven men to life in prison for having sexually assaulted women during rallies and public gatherings on Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

They are the first such heavy sentences to be handed out after the government toughened penalties for sexual violence.

The defendants were accused of kidnapping, raping, sexually attacking, attempting to murder and torturing a number of women.

Since the uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the problem of sexual harassment has grown enormously in Egypt, with women regularly being attacked at rallies by mobs of men in and around the iconic Tahrir Square.

The charges stemmed from four different incidents of sexual assault, including one during the June celebrations linked to the inauguration of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

After graphic video footage of a woman being sexually assaulted went viral on YouTube in early June, Egyptian authorities pledged to tackle the epidemic of sexual violence plaguing the country.

The video, apparently filmed using a mobile phone, shows a mob of men surrounding a young woman, who was stripped and badly bruised during the assault.

Of the seven men sentenced to life in prison, three of them received multiple life sentences. Another two men each received 20-year sentences.

The court also ordered all nine defendants to be placed under police surveillance for a period of five years once they have served their time in prison. Life sentences in Egypt are for 25 years.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Date created : 2014-07-16

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