Thirteen boys arrested over harassment of female tourists at Giza Pyramids

Egypt’s security forces arrested the teens after a video circulated on social media

The incident has renewed debate over what should be done to protect tourists from harassment at archaeological sites. Photo: EPA
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Egyptian security forces have arrested 13 boys after the harassment of two female tourists at the Giza Pyramids over the Eid holiday, the Ministry of Interior said.

A 34-second-long video clip showing a large group of teenagers following and trying to take pictures of the women at the pyramids had been circulated on social media.

The incident has renewed debate in Egypt over what should be done to protect tourists and in particular women from harassment at archaeological sites.

The boys, aged between 13 and 15 years old, said they tried talking and taking pictures with the women without the intention of harassment, according to the interior ministry statement on Saturday.

A tour guide filmed and published the clip on a WhatsApp group for tour guides, while another posted it on social media.

In the clip, the guide describes the scene of the Egyptian boys “running after the foreigners” and says repeatedly “I want this video to reach the Minister of Tourism”.

He said the behaviour constitutes “harassment of foreigners” and suggested Egyptians should be banned from the archaeological area during public holidays.

The women seem bothered by the attention and one turns around with her arms out to push them back at one point. However, they did not file a complaint.

A man who seems to be a guide walking with the women also tries to shoo the boys away, as one of them gets out his mobile phone.

On the interior ministry Facebook page, social media users expressed anger and disappointment about the episode.

One user said “of course the teens are at fault”, but also criticised the guide who took the video without interfering, saying he should have quickly notified the tourism and antiquities police in the area.

“The incident is not the first and will not be the last of abuses that occur in various archaeological sites, especially during holidays and special occasions,” another user said. “These visitors must be protected, so that they do not get a bad impression of the behaviour of all respectable Egyptians due to the actions of a few irresponsible people.”

Egypt criminalised sexual harassment in 2014 and has stepped up efforts in recent years to strengthen laws to try to protect women from such crimes.

In July last year, the parliament approved upgrading the offence from a misdemeanour to a felony, increasing minimum jail sentences from one to two years and raising the fine to at least 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,400).

Updated: May 08, 2022, 4:47 PM