An Egyptian lawyer has sparked a controversy by saying that it is a "national duty" to rape women who wear revealing clothes. During a heated television debate on prostitution aired on a local television channel, the lawyer said it would be a "patriotic duty" of citizens to sexually harass such women.

Nabih al-Wahsh, a locally popular lawyer with strong conservative views, was among several guests who were debating a new draft law on prostitution broadcast on the Egyptian television channel, al-Assema. When the panel's debates became more heated, Wahsh, at one point insisted that females wearing revealing clothes deserve to be punished.

"Would you accept a girl walking around with half of her thigh showing?" he shouted at a fellow panellist before quickly adding: "I say when a girl is walking around like that, harassing her is a patriotic duty, and raping her is a national duty."

The panellists were discussing a draft legislation, which includes "inciting debauchery," on the Infirad Show. "Women must respect themselves so others respect them. Protecting morals is more important than protecting borders," continued Wahsh.

Despite his contentious comments, he defended those and said his argument was to demand harsher punishment for sexual harassment.

The lawyer's comments have triggered an instant backlash and Egypt's state-backed National Council for Women (NCW) has filed a formal complaint against him and the television channel to the Supreme Media Council. The NCW has asked channels to be careful in airing views, which incite violence against women. Other activists have also condemned the lawyer's controversial remarks.