Human Rights Watch said today it had identified 91 instances of sexual assault committed by groups of men in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as crowds gathered there calling for the ouster of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
"The rampant sexual attacks during the Tahrir Square protests highlight the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis in public spaces," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch.
"These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country's development," Stork said.
Local media reports in Egypt noted that Cairo police had been noticeably absent from the Tahrir Square area during the protests.
Eyewitnesses said that because of the tightly packed crowds in the square, it was difficult to identify or apprehend attackers.
“As far as anyone I’ve talked to knows, no arrests have ever been made in connection with the Tahrir assaults,” wrote Laura Dean, a former employee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee who now writes a blog from Egypt.