Africa tourism

Egypt arrests 13 teenagers for harassing tourists

A group of camels and horses stand idle in front of the Great Pyramids waiting for tourists in Giza, Egypt. /Reuters
A group of camels and horses stand idle in front of the Great Pyramids waiting for tourists in Giza, Egypt. /Reuters

Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered on Monday that 13 teenagers arrested over the weekend and accused of harassing two tourists at the Giza pyramids near Cairo remain in custody pending an investigation.

The arrests came after a video surfaced on social media showing a crowd of boys milling around two young women at the famous archaeological site, one of Egypt’s top tourist attractions.

The boys are seen mocking the women and some crowd close to them as they try to run away. A woman turns around and tries to push away a boy. It is unclear from the footage if any of the boys groped the women. A voice is heard saying that the video should be sent to the minister of tourism.

A tour guide who filmed the incident with his smartphone accused the teens of “verbally and physically” harassing the women, charges they deny, the chief prosecutor’s office said.

The video sparked outrage on social media in the Muslim-majority country where sexual harassment as well as sexual misconduct, mostly ranging from hissing to the occasional pinching or grabbing in public, is rampant.

According to a statement from the prosecution, the arrested boys are between 13 and 15 years old. The statement did not provide any details about female tourists.

If charged, the boys will face trial in juvenile court.

Visitors to the Giza pyramids and other famous archaeological sites in Egypt are regularly harassed and followed by young men who aggressively offer tours, souvenirs, carriage rides or camel rides.

The problem of sexual harassment in Egypt drew worldwide attention during and after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak when women were harassed, groped – and in some cases beaten and sexually assaulted – in mass protests against the government.