School girls walk on a street in Cairo
School girls walk on a street in CairoReuters

Egypt has introduced a draft law that for the first time defines and includes punishment for sexual harassment amid an alarming increase in attacks on women.

A 2013 UN study found that 99.3% of Egyptian women have suffered some form of sexual harassment up to and including been sexually assaulted.

There is no specific law in Egypt condemning sexual harassment although three articles in the penal code were sometimes applied to cases of assaults on women.

The draft law defines a sexual harasser as one who "accosts others in a public or private place through following or stalking them, using gestures or words or through modern means of communication or in any other means through actions that carry sexual or pornographic hints".

The law will be revised a final time by the cabinet before being issued by the president Adly Mansour.

Justice minister Ahmed El Sergany said the legislation, which will include prison sentences or a fine for the assailant, will be issued "soon".

Offenders could end up in prison for at least one year and be forced to pay a fine of between LE 10,000 (£853) and LE 20,000 (£1,707).

Those who engage in mob sexual harassment will receive sentencing of up to five years in prison.

The draft was approved after a female student at Cairo University was sexually harassed by a mob of male students. Gaber Nassar, a university dean, blamed the student's attire - just long-sleeved shirt, pants and blonde hair - for the assault.

He later backtracked on his comments after a video of the incident went viral on social media.

According to Egyptian Ahram newspaper, the existing penal code used to punish sexual harassment consists of these articles:

Article 360 that concerns insults, which can be applied to cat-calling and other forms of verbal harassment on the street. Punishment can range from a fine of LE100 (roughly $17) to one month in prison.

The second provision, Article 278, applies to "indecent behaviour," including indecent exposure, trailing and stalking, with punishment ranging from a fine to three years in prison.

The third provision, Article 268, concerns "sexual assault," which covers cases of physical sexual abuse, with punishment ranging from three to 15 years in prison.