Seven men have been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a woman in Tahrir Square as thousands celebrated the inauguration of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The arrests come after a video was posted on Youtube purportedly showing the attack. It shows a woman being stripped naked and assaulted as police try to rescue her.
The Daily Mail reports that Egyptian police are also investigating another 27 complaints of sexual harassment during Sunday’s rally in support of President Sisi.
Twenty-nine women’s rights groups in the country released a joint statement condemning mob attacks on women, which are becoming increasingly common, and accusing the government of failing to do enough to tackle the problem.
They claim to have recorded more than 250 cases of “mass sexual rape and mass sexual assaults” in Egypt between November 2012 and January 2014.
The Egyptian government last week passed a new law that punishes sexual harassment with at least six months imprisonment or fines of at least 3,000 Egyptian Pounds (£250 Sterling).
The country’s interior ministry yesterday identified the men who had been arrested and gave their ages as between 15 and 49. It said they had been arrested for “harassing several girls”, making no mention of the girl in the video. The ministry added that a policeman was injured in the incident.
Two of the men have admitted beating a woman while the other five have denied any wrongdoing, saying the women provoked them.
A female TV presenter later caused further outrage after saying that sexual assaults were happening in Tahrir Square because people were “happy”. She made the comment and laughed as a correspondent reporting live from the square told her about the assaults.
Yesterday, she denied her comment was about the sexual assaults, claiming on her Facebook page: “I was, along with my guests, commenting on people’s joy, not the harassment.”
In 2012, a female British journalist was also sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square as she reported on the election of Mohammed Morsi as president. Natasha Smith said that dozens of “frenzied” men dragged her away and started groping her “with increasing force and aggression”.