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Most women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment or violence. But her catcaller was surprised when the year-old philosophy student jumped into the taxi he was driving. Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android. It has not always gone well. The reckoning began in June, when a student at the American University in Cairo AUC posted a warning on Facebook about a former student, Ahmed Bassam Zaki, whom she accused of sexually harassing and blackmailing women.
Days later, after that post disappeared, Ms Ashraf launched an on Instagram called Assault Police, which repeated the allegations against Mr Zaki—and listed more. He was soon arrested. A woman alleged that a group of wealthy young men drugged and gang-raped her at a five-star hotel in Cairo in Another woman, called Aya Khamees, accused a man of rape—and accused the police of ignoring her claims. It seemed as if Egypt was having a MeToo moment. The National Council for Women, a government body, urged other victims of sexual violence to come forward. Parliament approved a law guaranteeing them anonymity.
Assault Police now has over , followers. But the progress was largely illusory. Take the alleged gang rape, which was reportedly recorded by the attackers. It took weeks of campaigning by activists before the Public Prosecution Office moved, allowing some of the suspects to flee the country.
Five men have since been arrested; at least two suspects are still at large. Three of the men arrested have been charged with rape, which they deny. This has had a chilling effect: once-vocal women have gone into hiding. After Ms Khamees was turned away by the police, she broadcast her accusations on TikTok, an app for sharing short videos, where she had more than , followers. Days after the video went viral, the police picked up the entire group who had been partying with her that night. Her attackers she accused a group of people of facilitating the rape were charged with rape and other offences.
These cases are indicative. Egypt has laws against sexual violence and harassment the latter enacted only in , but victims keep quiet for fear they will be blamed and shamed. The real problem is the attitude of Egyptian men. They decide what violates Egyptian values. Lately they have been using a cyber-crime law to crack down on women dancing and clowning around on TikTok. Six have been sentenced to two years each in prison; two have received three-year sentences. Part of what panics the old arbiters of morality is how the internet has empowered young, often lower-class women.
The country as a whole, though, remains deeply conservative. Many Egyptians supported the arrests of the TikTok stars. Only in Egypt are the views of young men as conservative as those of older men when it comes to gender, says Amel Fahmy, who worked on the survey. She grew more disillusioned after talking to her catcalling cab driver.
He ultimately apologised, she says, but then claimed he would never get married. Will a weakening ruling party team up with liberals or the thuggish far left? The racial income gap has narrowed since But the gains went largely to the black elite. Reuse this content The Trust Project. The Economist today. up. It may go bust first. Zigzag in Zintan Could Libya be ruled again by a Qaddafi? Building bridges African pension funds have grown impressively. Not so black and white Unpicking inequality in South Africa.
Unpicking inequality in South Africa The racial income gap has narrowed sinceWomen in sex in cairo
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