Accountability for sexual harassment is absent in Egypt

Mohammed Al-Batawy
July 7, 2019

The Egyptian player Amr Warda was not absent for long after the Egyptian Football Federation (FAF) quickly reversed its decision to exclude him from the Egyptian national football team after the sexual harassment scandal. The federation retreated as a result of the solidarity Egyptian players showed towards their friend.

Nevertheless, this decision allowed people to question whether the actions against this player are consistent with Egyptian law, public morality, and repeated campaigns allegedly fighting sexual harassment.

The Egyptian penal code says: “The accused shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of not less than six months and a fine of not less than EGP 3,000, and not more than EGP 5,000, or one of those two penalties for anyone who is exposed to others in a public or private place, sexual or pornographic references or gestures, whether by speech or by any means, including means of telecommunications or telecommunications.” 

The law adds that: “The penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of not less than one year imprisonment and a fine not less than EGP 5,000 and not more than EGP 10,000 if [it is a] repeated act.”

Warda pursued the Mexican fashion model, Giovanna Valdati, with messages and obscene photos but legal action against him has not been taken. Social media users were angry at the decision of the Egyptian Football Federation and said that Warda would continue to sexually harass women because he had not been held accountable for his actions. 

Over the past several years there have been a number of incidents of sexual harassment, especially during the festive season, which Egyptian authorities have said they will not tolerate. However, the Warda incident raises important questions about how serious Egyptian authorities are in applying the law. 

At the end of last year, Egyptian actress Rania Youssef appeared at the Cairo Film Festival in a dress that sparked controversy in local and international newspapers and on social media. 

She was accused of “immorality,” according to a lawsuit filed by three Egyptian lawyers. Prosecutors described what she had done as a “blatant violation of the law and an insult to all the Egyptian people, and abuse of the name of Egypt and Egyptian women.”

In addition the Egyptian Representation Syndicate said it would “open an investigation with those who have committed an infringement against Egyptian society…” 

Rania watched Amr Warda’s return to the team and asked, “Why double standards?” on Twitter. Rania believes that fighting harassment is as important as winning the African Nations Cup. 

“Is it just because he plays football?” she asked, of Warda’s reinstatement.