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Sex assaults mar Sisi inauguration in Egypt

| Monday, June 9, 2014, 5:22 p.m.

CAIRO — A string of sexual assaults of women during celebrations of Egypt's presidential inauguration — including a mass attack on a 19-year-old student who was stripped in Cairo's Tahrir Square — prompted outrage on Monday.

A video emerged purportedly showing the teenager, bloodied and naked, surrounded by dozens of men.

Seven men were arrested in connection with the assault, and police were investigating 27 other complaints of sexual harassment during rallies on Sunday by tens of thousands of people celebrating Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi's inauguration late into the night, security officials said.

Sexual violence has increasingly plagued large gatherings during the past three years of turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, and women's groups complained that tough laws have not done enough.

Twenty-nine women's rights groups released a joint statement accusing the government of failing do enough to address the spiraling outbreak of mob attacks on women. The groups said they had documented more than 250 cases of “mass sexual rape and mass sexual assaults” from November 2012 to January 2014.

“Combatting that phenomena requires a comprehensive national strategy,” according to the statement signed by the women's groups.

Last week, authorities issued a decree declaring sexual harassment a crime punishable by as much as five years in prison. The decree amended Egypt's laws on abuse, which did not criminalize sexual harassment and only vaguely referred to such offenses as “indecent assault.”

In the latest incident, video footage posted on social media purportedly shows the student naked amid a crowd of men, parts of her body bloodied as policemen struggled to escort her out of Tahrir. The video appeared authentic and was consistent with AP reporting of the incident.

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