Victims of sexual harassment in Egypt will get anonymity after a high profile case that saw a number of women use social media to accuse a male student of carrying out several attacks.

Under the proposal, the identity of the victim can only be revealed to the court and to the defendant upon request.

Research shows sexual harassment is widespread in Egypt.

But women are often afraid that if they make their own complaints they will be blamed.

On Wednesday the Egyptian cabinet approved anonymity bill, local media reported.

How was this case revealed?

Current attention to this problem begins with a rare social media campaign in which women express their experiences of alleged abuse.

Last week an Instagram account called Assault Police was formed to publish allegations of rape, sexual harassment, and extortion by dozens of women against student Ahmed Bassam Zaki, who was reported from a wealthy family.

Zaki was later arrested and on Monday Egyptian prosecutors accused him of carrying out an indecent attack on at least three women, including one who was underage at the time.

Zaki faces charges of “trying to have sex with two girls without consent and indecent attacks on both of them and a third girl” between 2016 and 2020, prosecutors said.

A statement from the attorney general’s office said Zaki admitted that he had contacted six women via social media, received photos from them and then threatened to send photos to their families after they chose to end contact with him.

But Zaki has denied other allegations, according to local media.

What is the reaction?

This case has attracted great attention in national media and from leading institutions.

The country’s best Islamic cleric authority, al-Azhar, issued a statement encouraging women to report incidents, saying that silence was a threat to society and caused more violations.

“Women’s clothing – whatever that is – is no reason to invade their privacy, freedom and dignity,” he said.

Activists hope that the rare public support for women making accusations of abuse is a turning point in Egypt.

Journalist Reem Abdellatif, who was shunned by his family after accusing his father of harassment, posted a message of support online.

“The fact that these girls talk loudly like this with this kind of momentum – I have never seen it,” he told the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

But there has been some reaction on social media, with some calling Mr Zaki’s accuser a liar or saying they themselves are to blame.

But others use the hashtag Me Too, which is widely used globally to call for an end to impunity in cases of sexual harassment.

How widespread is sexual harassment and abuse in Egypt?

In 2013 a study by the UN Women showed that 99% of Egyptian women had been sexually abused, both verbally and physically.

Sexual harassment was criminalized in 2014 but activists say it is difficult to get a sentence.

Human rights campaigners say women are more often punished for violating conservative sexual norms.

Some women are currently being sued for “promoting debauchery” on the TikTok and Instagram social media platforms.

Last week social media influencer Hadeer al-Hady was reportedly arrested after being accused of posting “indecent videos” online.

By admin

Leave a Reply