Human trafficking in Egypt
Egypt is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children who are subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. Some of Egypt's estimated two hundred thousand to one million street children – both boys and girls – are exploited in prostitution and forced begging. Local gangs are, at times, involved in this exploitation. Egyptian children are recruited for domestic and agricultural labor; some of these children face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, such as restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. In addition, wealthy men from the Gulf reportedly travel to Egypt to purchase "temporary" or "summer marriages" with Egyptian females, including girls who are under the age of 18; these arrangements are often facilitated by the females' parents and marriage brokers and are a form of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Child sex tourism occurs in Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor. Egypt is a transit country for women trafficked from Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, and other Eastern European countries to Israel for commercial sexual exploitation; organized crime groups are involved in these movements.
Men and women from South and Southeast Asia may be subjected to forced labor in Egypt. Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese, Indonesians, Filipino, and possible Sri Lankan females migrate willingly to Egypt but may be subjected to forced domestic work. Some conditions they face include no time off; sexual, physical, and emotional abuse; withholding of wages; and restrictions of movement. Employers may use the domestic workers' illegal status and lack of employment contracts as a coercive tool. Some of the migrants and refugees who engage in prostitution may have been coerced to do so. Young female Sudanese refugees, including those under 18, may be coerced into prostitution in Cairo's nightclubs by family or Sudanese gang members. NGO and media reports indicate some Egyptians are forced to work in Jordan and experience the withholding of passports, forced overtime, non-payment of wages, and restrictions of movement.
In 2010, the Egyptian government approved new legislation criminalizing trafficking in persons for labor and sexual exploitation. In 2009/2010, the government made its first two convictions under the 2008 anti-trafficking amendments to the Child Law and raised awareness on "summer marriages," which are often used to facilitate commercial sexual exploitation. According to the U.S. government, the Egyptian government's lack of formal victim identification procedures and protection services allowed unidentified victims of trafficking to be punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
Egypt’s parliament has passed legislation criminalizing all forms of human trafficking and prescribing penalties from three to 15 years’ imprisonment – and up to life imprisonment if aggravating circumstances are present – with fines ranging from $9,000 to $36,000 for offenses. Amendments to the Child Law (No. 126 of 2008) include provisions prohibiting the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. These amendments prescribe sentences of at least five years' imprisonment.
According to the U.S. government, Egyptian officials did not employ formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to providers of care; as a result, trafficking victims, including many street children and women arrested for prostitution, were often treated as criminals rather than victims. Some children may be sent to juvenile detention centers, which are in bad condition. Others may be subject to incarceration with adults, despite the Child Law which prohibits this practice. Border security personnel in the Sinai continued efforts to interdict undocumented migrants, occasionally killing some of them, while showing no evidence of efforts to identify possible trafficking victims among this vulnerable population. As of 2009, the Ministry of Social Solidarity operated 19 drop-in centers for street children, women, and the disabled that may have provided care to trafficking victims.
The NCCM operates a 24-hour hotline to respond to complaints of child abuse. Specialized care for adults or foreign victims was not provided as of 2009. In prisons or detention centers, law enforcement officers may have further mistreated these victims through verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. Foreign 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.
The government made progress in preventing "summer marriages" in the reporting period, but did not otherwise undertake efforts to prevent human trafficking. The government was mandated by the newly passed law to create an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate anti-trafficking enforcement activities, victim protection, and programs. The government did not institute any other public campaigns to raise awareness on trafficking, including any on involuntary domestic servitude. The government made no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to raise awareness of sex tourism. The government has a well-developed birth registration and national identity card system. There were no reports of Egyptian government's efforts to provide anti-trafficking training for its troops before deploying them to international peacekeeping missions.