An Egyptian lawyer has been handed a three-year prison sentence for saying it was men’s ‘national duty’ to rape women wearing tight, ripped jeans.
Nabih al-Wahsh said that if a woman wore such trousers she deserved to be sexually assaulted and harassed.
His comments during a television programme had provoked outrage and complaints to the state prosecutor, who decided to put him on trial.
The prosecution charged him with ‘publicly inciting to flout the law’ and ‘spreading with malice reports and statements meant to perturb public order… and harm the public interest’.
Wahsh was on Saturday sentenced in absentia as he didn’t show up to his hearing after being released on bail. The sentence can be appealed.
After his comments in late October, Egypt’s highest women’s rights body reported the lawyer for ‘promoting sexual harassment’.
Nada Draz of the state National Council for Women also said that the comments ‘explicitly promote rape’.
Ripped jeans have been at the heart of controversy in recent months about their propriety, with some university colleges banning students from wearing them on campus.
Egypt is a majority Muslim country of some 95million that is a mostly patriarchal society where street harassment of women is endemic.
Al-Wahsh appeared on a talk show where the invited guests were discussing laws on ‘inciting debauchery’.
He said if women wear jeans with rips that show any part of their legs, they are inviting men to harass them.
He added that raping women who wear ripped jeans is ‘a national duty,’ implying that this would not only be what the women deserved but a way for them to learn self-respect.
He said: ‘Girls must respect themselves so others respect them. Protecting morals is more important than protecting borders.’
This was not the first time Al-Wahsh has behaved outrageously in a television studio.
Last year, he appeared on a talk show with an Australia-based imam who argued that wearing a hijab – a headscarf – is a choice and not a religious requirement for Muslim women.
This infuriated Al-Wahsh, who took off his shoe and beat the imam round the head with it on live television.