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Raping women in ripped jeans is a 'national duty': Egyptian lawyer

Nabih al-Wahsh has sparked controversy after defending rape
Nabih al-Wahsh appeared on a panel on Alassema tv defending rape (Screengrab)

An Egyptian lawyer has sparked outrage after claiming that raping and sexually harassing women in revealing clothing is a "national duty".

Nabih al-Wahsh, a well-known conservative lawyer, made the remarks in a panel debate on Egyptian television channel Alassema, in a discussion on a draft law on prostitution in the country.

Wahsh prompted outrage after claiming that women wearing revealing clothing such as ripped jeans deserved to be raped.

“Would you accept a girl walking around with half of her thigh showing?” Wahsh asked, shouting at another member of the panel.

“I say, when a girl is walking around like that, harassing her is a patriotic duty, and raping her is a national duty.”

The comments came just weeks after a poll revealed Cairo to be the most dangerous megacity for women. 

Wahsh added: “Women must respect themselves so others respect them. Protecting morals is more important than protecting borders.”

Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW), a government body, has said it will file a complaint against the television channel and against Wahsh himself, to the Supreme Media Council.

In a statement on Sunday, head of the NCW, Maya Morsi, denounced Wahsh’s comments. 

"Harassment has nothing to do with a woman's clothing," she said, in a phone-in on the Dream television channel.

"Women and their freedom must be respected, and they must be protected in the street," she added. 

'Harassment has nothing to do with a woman's clothing... Women and their freedom must be respected'

- Maya Morsi, head of the National Council for Women

Later defending his comments in a statement to local Al-Watan website, Wahsh said that if his daughter was wearing jeans ripped from the back, she too would deserve to be harassed or raped.

He said that he regarded such dress as an invitation to rape.

Sexual harassment remains a major issue in the country, with a report from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality in 2013 finding that over 99 percent of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment.

Wahsh made the headlines last year after a televised debate between him and a liberal cleric.

The debate, shown on Egyptian television channel, LTC, quickly turned heated, with Wahsh taking off his shoes to fight the cleric.  

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