Egyptian Vigilantes Target, Shame Sex Harassers

Groups seek to protect women, force cops to act
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2012 12:14 AM CST
Young Egyptian women are harassed by men on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday in Cairo, Egypt.    (AP Photo/Samuel Mohsen, El Shorouk Newspaper, file)
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(Newser) – Vigilante groups have sprung up in Egypt to combat the country's chronic sexual harassment problem. Women have long faced catcalls, groping, and assaults on Egypt's streets and police tended to ignore the problem during the years of authoritarian rule, the New York Times reports. The citizens' groups that have started patrolling Cairo seek to shame both the abusers and authorities who look the other way. Some groups avoid violence, while others confront suspects and haul them to police stations.

During a recent patrol, "we caught some harassers, sprayed them with paint and published their pictures everywhere," the leader of one group says. "The Interior Ministry wasn’t cooperating with us at all. They weren’t protecting women in the streets." The groups' activities appear to have spurred the government to take action. A spokesman for President Mohamed Morsi says more than a thousand complaints of harassment were received during the recent Eid al-Adha holiday and the president has ordered authorities to investigate. "Egypt’s revolution cannot tolerate these abuses," he said.

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