Egyptian lawyer says it’s ‘national duty’ to harass girls wearing ripped jeans

Egyptian lawyer says it’s ‘national duty’ to harass girls wearing ripped jeans

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CAIRO: An Egyptian lawyer has sparked outrage over inflammatory comments claiming that it’s a national duty of men to harass and rape women who wear ripped jeans.

Nabih al-Wahsh, a prominent conservative, made the controversial comments during a TV panel show discussion debating a draft law on prostitution.

“Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?” the lawyer said on Al-Assema earlier this month.

He added: “I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her.”

Mr al-Wahsh’s remarks have prompted fury across the country and Egypt’s National Council for Women announced it plans to file a complaint against the TV channel. It also issued a plea for media outlets to refrain from providing a platform for individuals who make incendiary comments that incite violence against women.

The National Council also said it would be filing a complaint against Mr al-Wahsh himself and rebuked his assertion.

“All the members of the council denounce and decry this statement that explicitly promotes rape and sexual harassment,” it said in a statement.

Maya Morsi, head of the council, argued his remarks constitute an actual violation of the Egyptian constitution that makes explicit efforts to safeguard women’s rights.

The comments come after the Egyptian capital of Cairo was last month branded the “most dangerous” megacity for women in the first international poll which looked at how women fare in cities with over ten million people.

Women’s rights campaigners in the city say this stems from deeply entrenched centuries-old traditions of discrimination there and women having limited access to good healthcare, education, and finance.

A 2008 study found that 83 per cent of Egyptian women said they had been sexually harassed and 53 per cent of men blamed women for “bringing it on themselves”.

Mr al-Wahsh made headlines in October last year after his debate with a liberal cleric descended into chaos and chairs and shoes wound up flying around the TV studio.

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