Human Rights Watch said Thursday that the Egyptian authorities have failed to protect vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers from rampant sexual violence, including failure to investigate rape and sexual assault.
The organization added in a report It was published on its official website that it “documented 11 incidents of sexual violence in Egypt between 2016 and 2022, against seven refugee and asylum-seekers from Sudan and Yemen, including a child.”
She indicated that all six women, including a transgender woman, said that men raped them and that four of them were assaulted in two or more incidents, while the girl’s mother said that a man raped her 11-year-old daughter.
And it indicated that “three of them said that the police refused to prepare a report on the incident, and three said that they were intimidated to the extent that they were unable to report the incident at all.”
Another woman said that “a police officer sexually harassed her when she tried to report the rape,” according to the organization.
The report quoted the organization’s Middle East and North Africa director, Lama Fakih, as saying, “Refugee women and girls in Egypt not only live in vulnerable situations and are at risk of sexual violence, but it also appears that the authorities are not interested in protecting them, investigating incidents, or bringing rapists to justice.”
“The authorities’ apparent indifference to these issues leaves refugee women with no recourse to justice,” she added.
The report notes that “sexual violence against women and girls in Egypt has been a widespread problem in recent years,” accusing the Egyptian government of “failing to develop and implement appropriate investigation policies and systems or to enact the necessary legislation to address the problem.”
A Reuters poll conducted in 2017 stated that Cairo, where more than a third of refugees live in Egypt, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is the most dangerous city in the world for women.
Many of the refugee communities in Cairo and Giza are located in slums and areas with high crime rates.
This “exacerbates the risks for refugee women and girls, who appear to be targeted by attackers based on their actual or perceived vulnerability related to poverty and legal status,” the report said.
The organization stated that the six women said that they had experienced severe physical effects as a result of the rape, such as bleeding or inflammation, difficulty walking, bruises, muscle pain, and other injuries, while three cases of rape led to pregnancy.
The organization stressed that the police did not refer any of the four women who complained to it to forensic medicine or health care services.
Victims also reported many psychological problems, including sleep problems, constant feelings of fear including stalking, anger, frustration, depression, and memory problems. The transgender woman said she had suicidal thoughts.
According to the organization, five of the women are Sudanese, and they are two refugees and three asylum-seekers registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The other two are from Yemen, one is a registered refugee and the other is a registered asylum seeker.
As for the rapists, one of them was Syrian, the other Sudanese, and the rest were Egyptians, according to Human Rights Watch.
The organization called on the Egyptian authorities to “perform their legal duties under domestic law and international human rights law, and to conduct a thorough investigation of all allegations of rape.”
It also called on the authorities to “establish protection mechanisms to separate immigration enforcement from the need to protect people, including in the context of police response to violent crime.”
Egypt hosts more than 288,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, most of whom are from Syria or sub-Saharan Africa.
Al-Hurra has not yet received a response to a request sent to the Egyptian Embassy in Washington regarding what was mentioned in the report.