Egypt Modifies Penalty Laws to Criminalise Bullying for the First Time

Photo courtesy of Ann Blodzinsinski.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly approved draft amendments outlining various degrees of penalty and jail terms to criminalise bullying for the first time in Egypt’s history, according to a conference call held Wednesday.

In the conference call, the Cabinet agreed on a legislative project of modifying the penalty laws as well as introducing article 309b, which outlines an updated definition for bullying.

In addition to describing bullying as transgression committed on the grounds of race, gender, religion, physical attributes, and health and mental status, the new article defines the act as “a show of force or control by the offender, or the abuse of a vulnerable victim.”

The draft amendment outlined a minimum prison term of six months and/or a penalty of EGP 10,000 to 30,000. The law also stipulates that should the offence be committed by a group, or if the offender is related to the victim in any way, penalties may increase to EGP 20,000 to EGP 100,000 and/or a minimum prison sentence of one year.

This amendment comes in light of data and incidents highlighting the issue of bullying in Egypt. When a young girl in Damietta was subject to derogatory racial comments by her teacher in 2018, the case was waived after the Directorate of Education, the Teachers’ Syndicate and the members of the boards of trustees of educational departments intervened.

Similarly, in 2019 two Egyptian men were arrested but not charged after a racially motivated attack on a young South Sudanese boy caught on video garnered public outrage.

After a study published by UNICEF revealed that 70 percent of Egyptian children ages 13-15 are victims of bullying, the organization launched a multilateral national campaign funded by the European Union (EU), in partnership with the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), and the Ministry of Technical Education (MOETE).

Additionally, a research paper published in the Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association in 2019 recorded a prevalence of bullying behaviour among 77.8 percent of youths in rural Egypt.