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Male workers banned at Egypt female health clubs

Minister says move aimed at fighting sexual harassment

Gulf News

Cairo: Egypt Sunday banned hotels from employing men at women’s health clubs after a reported rise in sexual assaults on foreign clients.

Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou imposed the ban in an official decree that threatens violating clubs with closure and their hotels with downgrading.

Zazou said the move was part of his ministry’s efforts to fight sexual harassment, which he said is harming Egypt’s reputation as a tourist destination.

He added that his ministry will cooperate in holding workshops for policemen, in which legal experts will give lectures on documenting incidents of harassment to ensure that offenders will get a “deterrent penalty”.

Other courses will be held for employees in the country’s tourist areas to raise their awareness about suggestive gestures and anti-harassment laws, said tourism officials.

Egypt is struggling to revive its tourism industry, a major foreign currency earner, which has been hard hit by turmoil that has gripped the country since president Hosni Mubarak’s toppling in February 2011.

Local rights groups have recently reported mass sex assaults on women during anti-government protests, mainly in Tahrir Square that was the focal point of the revolt against Mubarak.

They accuse the Islamist-led government of condoning what they call “systematic” harassment of women.

The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of security in Egypt, said earlier this month it will set up female police units to protect women from harassers.