Woman Jailed In Egypt For Speaking Out About Being Sexually Harassed

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Amnesty International condemned the arrest of Amal Fathy after she spoke up about being sexually harassed in the country.

Amal Fathy, a mother, a former activist and actress was sentenced to prison in Egpyt.

Her crime: speaking up after being sexually harassed in the country.

In May, the former activist uploaded a video on her Facebook account revealing how she got sexually harassed while visiting a bank in Egypt. She also slammed the government for failing to protect the women of the country.

Just two days later, Egyptian security forces barged into Fathy’s house and arrested her. They also took her husband, Mohammed Lotfi, and son, Ziad, in custody – they were later released. But Fathy was held in custody, and put on trial after receiving a two-year suspended sentence and a fine of $558 (10,000 Egyptian pounds.)

The woman who dared to protest about her horrific encounter on social media was accused of “spreading false news.” She is facing a second trial on charges of "misusing social media networks to spread material that "could hurt Egypt's security and public interest" as well as "belonging to an outlawed group."

"The sentencing is an appalling verdict that contains a message for every harasser, that he is free to harass without fearing punishment, and to every victim of harassment that if she speaks out, she will be jailed," said Mohamed Lotfy, Fathy's husband and head of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.

Currently, Fathy is on pre-trail detention because the country released a new law that enables the country's media regulator to monitor social media users. The draconian law allows the country’s media regulator to "suspend or block any personal account which publishes or broadcasts fake news or anything [information] inciting violating the law, racism, intolerance, violence, discrimination between citizens, or hatred.”

In simpler terms, the Egypt government which is known for arresting a number of prominent journalists and activists, have arrested been for allegedly spreading false rhetoric online can now legally prosecute civilians for even posting their personal opinions on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the Human Rights Watch, Egypt is unjustly punishing critics under the guise of counterterrorism laws.

“This is an outrageous case of injustice, where the survivor is sentenced while the abuser remains at large,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa campaigns director. “She is a human rights defender and sexual harassment survivor who told her truth to the world and highlighted the vital issue of women’s safety in Egypt. She is not a criminal and should not be punished for her bravery.”

Fathy may now be treated like a terrorist.

But this isn’t new for Egypt, as the country has a history of mistreating victims.

Earlier in July, a Lebanese woman, Mona el-Mazboh, who was in Cairo for a holiday, claimed she was sexually harassed in the country. She was arrested at the Cairo airport and may face jail.

The disturbing level of violence against the females of the country is cringe worthy, and all these horrific episodes are pretty well-documented. Just recently, a social media video exposed a number of men harassing Egyptian women on the country’s streets while they tried to run away from them. The women who were being harassed were wearing hijabs. They screamed for help but none of the bystanders came forward to help them.

In another similar disturbing incident, a man was murdered on an Egyptian beach for trying to protect his wife from an alleged harasser.

A 2013 report released by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women discovered 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

A recent study by UN women and Promundo, a Brazilian organization campaigning for gender equality, also revealed that around 43 percent of men in Egypt think that women enjoy getting attention and have no problem with being harassed.

In 2017, up to 64 percent of Egyptian men admitted to harassing women in the streets, with actions ranging from ogling, talking, groping and raping. The very same year, the country’s capital, Cairo, was termed as the "most dangerous megacity in the world for women" in a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew his country’s democratic government in a military coup, has reportedly abducted, detained and tortured tens of thousands of protesters. He is now trying to prosecute peaceful critics even if they have been victims of injustice themselves. 

People on social media were livid at the government that gave a shut up call to women across the country to stay mum about sexual assault or face jail, just like Fathy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumbnail / Banner : Ahmed Ismail, Anadolu Agency, Getty Images

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