A female student at Cairo University was sexually attacked by tens of her colleagues from the law faculty for wearing black trousers and a pink sweater on campus, an outfit that the university’s head has referred to as a “mistake.”
The woman was surrounded by the group of male students who verbally and physically assaulted her, in addition to trying to strip off her clothes, according to a statement released on Monday by the anti-sexual harassment campaign “I Witnessed Harassment.”
She then ran to the bathroom and hid until security personnel came to escort her from the campus.
Speaking to private ONTV channel on Monday, Cairo University head Gaber Nassar said that the girl had been wearing a long garment over her clothes when she entered the campus gates but later took it off, “which led to the incident occurring.”
A video screened during Nassar’s ONTV interview shows the woman wearing black trousers and a pink top while she is being led off campus by security.
“The girl’s mistake doesn’t justify [the male students’] behaviour,” said Nassar, adding that the university does not allow students to wear “unusual or inappropriate” outfits on campus.
Nassar said that Monday was the first time such an incident had occurred at the university.
He added that the harassers had been monitored by security cameras and would be investigated.
Both the male students and the woman will be punished and possibly expelled for breaking the university’s rules, he said.
Fathi Fareed, spokesman for the “I Witnessed Harassment” campaign, told ONTV in a separate interview that he had been shocked by Nassar’s comments and dismissed his claims that the student had been wearing a long gown over an allegedly inappropriate outfit.
“This morning the university had denied the incident, until the video went viral,” Fareed said. “This is a social disaster of sexual violence that the state needs to confront.”
Fareed also refuted Nasser’s claim that the incident was the first of its kind on the university’s campus.
His group has received tens of complaints from female students concerning sexual harassment from both students and faculty members, Fareed said.
Sexual harassment has long been a growing problem in Egypt.
A sexual harassment study last year which interviewed hundreds of women in seven of Egypt’s 27 governorates showed that more than 99 percent of the women had experienced some form of sexual harassment, ranging from minor incidents to rape, according to an April 2013 study by the United Nations, Egypt’s Demographic Centre and the National Planning Institute.