It's a nasty byproduct of having tens of thousands of people, most of them young men, in one space and with no police presence to speak of. Several incidents of sexual assault, by Egyptian men against both Egyptian and foreign women, have been reported in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square since anti-military protests intensified this week.
Tonight, journalists and activists reported from downtown Cairo that a foreign woman was at the center of a big commotion in a street adjacent to the square, and later reported to have been sexually assaulted and hauled away in an ambulance. (The woman, according to witnesses, turned out later to not be a journalist but a Dutch tourist).
A foreign female journo is being sexually harassed now in Bab El-Louq. It's chaos over here.— Jonathan Rashad (@JonathanRashad) January 27, 2012
We just got her friend into the ambulance. The girl got quite roughed up. God damn. #Tahrir— Ahmad H. Aggour (@Psypherize) January 27, 2012
Apparently lots of sexual harassment today on #Tahrir I've been running around by myself all day-haven't had a problem.Will keep an eye out— Bel Trew (@Beltrew) January 27, 2012
Most incidents in Tahrir, dating back to the night President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after 18 days of street protests, included groups of dozens of men groping and penetrating women with their hands. CBS anchor, Lara Logan, was infamously assaulted during the uprising.
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But sexual assault is not confined to Tahrir, and has long been an issue on the streets of Egypt. In 2008, the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR) described sexual harassment as a "social cancer," with 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt reporting having been sexually harassed.
A video reportedly of a blonde woman being assaulted in Tahrir on Wednesday night, following anniversary celebrations, was posted Friday morning by Egyptian blogger and student, @RamyYaacoub. It is not graphic but shows the extent to which women are being caught up in harassing mobs. In the video, some of the men are shown attempting to protect and help her escape:
More from GlobalPost: Lara Logan speaks about sexual assault in Cairo's Tahrir Square