Egypt (Tier 2 Watch List)
Egypt is a transit country for women trafficked from Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European countries to Israel for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and may be a source for children trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. Reports indicate that some of Cairo's estimated 1 million street children – both girls and boys – are exploited in prostitution. In addition, wealthy men from the Gulf reportedly travel to Egypt to purchase "temporary marriages" with Egyptian women, including in some cases girls who are under age 18, often apparently as a front for commercial sexual exploitation facilitated by the females' parents and marriage brokers. Some Egyptian cities may also be destinations for sex tourism. Children were also recruited from rural areas for domestic service in cities; some of these children may face conditions of involuntary servitude, such as restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse.
The Government of Egypt does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Egypt is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons, particularly in the area of law enforcement. The government also does not provide rehabilitation aid or other protection services to trafficking victims. Egypt typically returns foreign trafficking victims to their embassies for assistance. Egypt should make a serious effort to increase law enforcement activity against the trafficking of minors, institute formal victim identification procedures to ensure that trafficking victims are not punished or otherwise treated as criminals, and provide protection services for victims.
Egypt made no discernible efforts to prosecute and punish trafficking crimes this year. The Egyptian penal code does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, but the constitution does prohibit forced labor through its Article 13. Other laws, including those against rape and abduction, could be used to prosecute trafficking offenses, but are not. Child domestic workers are not protected by Egypt's labor laws as other child laborers are. The government provided no evidence of investigations, arrests, or prosecutions for trafficking offenses, including involuntary servitude of child domestic servants.
According to media reports, security forces in Sinai rescued four Russian women who may have been victims of trafficking, and returned them to the custody of the Russian embassy pending their deportation. In late April, police in Mahallah el-Kobra arrested 16 individuals in connection with an alleged trafficking ring that obtained women for exploitation in prostitution in the Gulf states. Egypt should significantly increase investigations, prosecutions, and punishments for trafficking offenses, including investigations of allegations of trafficking in children for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, and the trafficking of foreigners through Egypt. For a third year in a row, the government failed to take any steps to draft a comprehensive anti-trafficking law.
Egypt made no efforts to protect trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government does not offer protection services to victims of involuntary domestic servitude, though it operates a hotline for children to report complaints of abuse. There are reports of police arresting street children for prostitution and treating them as criminals rather than victims. In prisons or detention centers, law enforcement officers may further mistreat these victims through verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Egypt does not have formal victim identification procedures, so foreign victims of trafficking are detained as illegal immigrants; the government usually delivers possible trafficking victims to their embassies for repatriation. These victims are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution. The government does not actively encourage victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers. Egypt should institute a formal mechanism to identify victims and refer them to protection services offered by local NGOs. The government should also cease arresting child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and should support protection services with financial or in-kind assistance.
During the year, Egypt made insignificant progress in preventing trafficking in persons. The government did not pursue any anti-trafficking information campaigns or train border police and other law enforcement officials on identifying potential victims of trafficking. The government should institute a public awareness campaign to educate employers on the rights of children working in their homes, and should also educate parents on the consequences of selling their children for domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation through temporary marriages.