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Sunday 26 May 2019

Egyptian lawyer who called for women in ripped jeans to be raped in act of ‘national duty’ faces legal action

Women's rights campaigners say comments on live TV 'explicitly promote rape and sexual harassment'

Jeff Farrell

A lawyer in Egypt who said women who wear ripped jeans should be raped in an act of “national duty” has been reported to a top prosecutor after being accused of promoting sexual harassment.

Nabih al-Wahsh faces legal action after he made the controversial comment in a live TV discussion as part of a panel which was debating laws on “inciting debauchery”.

He suggested that if women who wore provocative clothing became victims of a sex attack it would teach them not to put on such garments again.

Mr al-Wahsh said: “Girls must respect themselves so others respect them. Protecting morals is more important than protecting borders.”

But campaign group National Council for Women reported Mr al-Wahsh to Egypt’s top prosecutor over his comments.

It said in a press release: “All the members of the council denounce and decry this statement that explicitly promotes rape and sexual harassment.”

Its member Nada Draz said the campaign group also plans to file a complaint to the TV station Al-Assema - where the Egyptian lawyer made his comments that sparked outrage.

Mr al-Wahsh had been speaking on the satellite channel two weeks ago over laws on “inciting debauchery” in Egypt.

He told fellow panellists: "Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?

“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.”

It came after he branded a liberal cleric an "infidel" in a TV debate last October that ended with chairs and shoes flying around the studio.

The row erupted after Sheikh Rashad, who is famed for his liberal interpretation of Islam, argued women should not necessarily be required to cover their hair with a headscarf.

Mr al-Wahsh's latest rape comments came after 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”.

The country’s capital, Cairo, was last month branded the “most dangerous” megacity for women.

Campaigners there say this stems from centuries-old traditions of discrimination, with women having limited access to good healthcare, education, and finance.

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