AP | By By TONY G. GABRIEL
Posted: 07/01/2013 6:20 pm EDT | Updated: 07/02/2013 2:25 am EDT
Cairo (AP) — A new wave of sexual assaults by groups of men targeting women during anti-government protests in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square has been reported as millions of Egyptians take to the streets to demand President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster.
A vigilante group formed to protect women in the square, which has become the epicenter of anti-government rallies, said it recorded the highest number of attempts — 46 — on Sunday as the majority of protesters were festive as families with small children and others spilled into side streets and across boulevards, waving flags, blowing whistles and chanting.
The atmosphere became less friendly in Tahrir as night fell on the badly lit plaza, which has seen a rise in attacks against women since shortly after the 18-day revolution that forced the resignation of Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, in 2011. Sexual harassment has long been common in Egypt, but its increasing frequency and violence has shaken the protest movement.
A Dutch woman was assaulted by multiple men as a crowd surrounded her in Tahrir Square on Friday as weekend protests by Morsi’s supporters and opponents got underway, officials said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday that the 22-year-old woman was repatriated, referring to a statement issued by the Dutch embassy in Cairo.
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media, said the Egyptian prosecutor’s office had launched an investigation into the attack.
Dutch media reported that the Foreign Ministry had confirmed a 22-year-old Dutch woman was assaulted on Friday night on Tahrir but given no more details. The media reports said she was apparently interning with an Egyptian organization and had gone to the square to take photos of the demonstrations.