June 13, 2014 — The Egyptian government and its new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, have failed to "respond aggressively to sexual assaults," a New York Times editorial states. Now, an Internet video of a "horrifying mass sexual assault on a woman on Sunday in Cairo's Tahrir Square" -- one of many similar incidents since the 2011 uprising -- "poses a serious test for Mr. Sisi," the editorial argues.
Although the government has taken a few recent steps, such as Sisi calling "for a committee to investigate the rise in sexual assaults and develop a strategy to address it," the editorial argues that "he has little credibility on this issue." For example, "in 2011, he defended the army's imposition of virginity tests on female detainees," it notes.
"[A]ny serious campaign against sexual violence must go further," including training emergency room doctors and police "so the victim's privacy is protected and appropriate evidence is collected"; supplying hospitals with "rape kits so that physical evidence can be collected, analyzed and matched with assailants"; creating "education initiatives in schools and religious institutions to ensure men and women understand women's rights"; and having leaders "articulate a firm message that such violence will be fully prosecuted," the editorial continues.
The editorial notes that a four-day summit this week in London, "attended by more than 100 countries," is "expected to adopt the first international protocol on how to document and investigate such crimes." It concludes, "The world simply cannot sit silent while women are systematically subjected to brutal sexual abuse" (New York Times, 6/11).