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Five defendants stand behind bars to hear the ruling on their case for sexual harassment and attacking women during celebrations in June after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's election, at a court in Cairo, July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper


CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced two men to life imprisonment and a third to 20 years in jail on Thursday, for sexually assaulting and beating women during celebrations held after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's election.

The men were also asked to pay 100,000 pounds (£8,303) each in compensation to their victims, who were forcibly separated from their friends and family, stripped of their clothes, beaten and sexually assaulted by gangs of men during a rally on June 6.

Egypt has clamped down on gang sex attacks in recent months, putting 13 men on trial in late June on accusations of attacking women during rallies in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 revolution and focus of public gatherings.

It passed a law in June criminalising sexual harassment and making it punishable by at least six months in jail or fines of no less than 3,000 pounds.

However, the men sentenced on Thursday faced far more serious charges including attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, and violating their victims' honour, a euphemism for sexual assault. They bring to 12 the number of men who have received lengthy prison terms in recent weeks for mob attacks.

The final defendant, a teenager, was transferred to a court that deals with minors and has yet to receive a verdict.

Sexual assaults are often hushed up by the victim's family as they try to salvage her reputation in a country where rape can ruin chances of marriage. When women do come forward, they face a male-dominated police force whose members are not adequately trained to deal with sensitive cases.

A United Nations' report on women last year said 99.3 percent of women and girls had been subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt.

(Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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The citizens' meeting

The citizens' meeting

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