June 19 (Bloomberg) -- An Egyptian who slapped a woman after she confronted him over his sexual harassment was sentenced in absentia to three months in prison, in a test case for the North African country.
Lyla El-Gueretly, a 30-year-old school teacher, arrived at the Abdeen Court in Cairo early today and was allowed briefly inside before the judge asked her to leave for deliberations.
“I’m a bit annoyed that he didn’t get the maximum two year prison sentence, and that he didn’t show up,” El-Gueretly said in a cafe near the court in downtown Cairo where she waited for her lawyer to phone with the ruling. “But I’m also happy he got a prison verdict.” The defendant, Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud Yousef, 40, may appeal. He faced charges of assaulting and hitting a woman in public or a 200 Egyptian pound ($28) fine.
El-Gueretly said she was walking along a bridge in Cairo in April as Yousef passed by on a bus, called her a whore and made sexual gestures with his mouth. After she scolded him for behaving badly in spite of the beard he wore in an apparent show of religiousness, he jumped off and began slapping her across the face, she said.
Women’s rights activists see the case as setting a precedent for the handling of rampant sexual harassment in Egypt, which largely goes unreported to police and where few cases get transfered to court. Yousef got two months jail for hitting El-Gueretly and a month for assaulting a woman in public.
“I didn’t have any faith in the legal system,” the school teacher said, “so this isn’t bad for a start.”
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