Egypt’s outgoing interim President Adly Mansour on Thursday issued a decree criminalizing sexual harassment as a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

The anti-sexual abuse decree amended existing laws that only vaguely referred to sexual harassment offences as “indecent assaults.”

The decree defines a sexual harasser as a person seeking to achieve “an interest of a sexual nature,” the Associated Press quoted presidential spokesman Ehab Badawi as saying.

Any sexual hints via words, signs or acts can now result in at least six months in jail, and could carry fines between 3,000 – 5, 000 Egyptian pounds. ($420-$700).

Under the new law, offenders would be prosecuted whether they commit harassment in public or in private. Penalties will double for repeat offenders, Badawi added.

The punishment can be harsher if the harasser holds power over the victim, such as being at a higher working status, or being armed with a weapon. Such acts can result in imprisonment periods ranging between two to five years and a fine of 20,000-50,000 pounds. ($2,800-$7,000)

Not enough?

More than 99 percent of Egyptian women are subjected to some form of abuse, according to a 2013 report by the United Nations.

Although sexual harassment was long seen as a problem in the Arab world’s most populous nation, the security deterioration in recent years is believed to have escalated it.

A sexual harassment case that took place last March at a top university triggered outrage on domestic and international levels.

Some activists say the problem is too big that the latest decree by President Mansour is insufficient… see more