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Witness detentions cast shadow over Egyptian ‘MeToo’ movement

Witness detentions cast shadow over Egyptian ‘MeToo’ movement

STUDENT Seif Bedour wanted to support his friend, a witness in a high-profile rape case, by accompanying her to a Cairo police station when she was brought in by officers on August 28 after offering to testify on behalf of the victim, his sister says. At the station, Bedour was detained and has been held in jail for four months on morality charges, relatives and activists say, even though the then 14-year-old had no connection to alleged rape and was not at the scene when it occurred at Cairo's Fairmont Nile City Hotel in 2014. Three sources close to Bedour…
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Perils of the catwalk: African models warn of trafficking threat

Perils of the catwalk: African models warn of trafficking threat

EMELINE WUILBERCQ and ELAS OHLEN  ALL eyes will be on the catwalk, but the model behind Ethiopia's first reality TV modelling competition hopes the show will also shine a spotlight on exploitation in the industry across Africa. While the #MeToo scandal highlighted widespread sex abuse in fashion, models and non-profits say women and girls pursuing a catwalk career face even greater dangers in developing nations. Delina Cleo - a model in her late twenties who created the 'Hidden Beauty of Ethiopia' show - wants to educate aspiring African models about risks from online scams to sex trafficking. "This industry can…
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Egypt’s sex assault accusations spotlight social stigmas

Egypt’s sex assault accusations spotlight social stigmas

MAI SHAMS ELDIN  WHEN dozens of Egyptians began posting accounts of sexual assault on social media last month, activists sensed a "#MeToo" moment in a nation where women have long felt disadvantaged. Like high-profile trials in the United States where the now global women's rights hashtag took off, prosecutors launched charges in Egypt's best-known recent case: a student from a wealthy background facing multiple accusations. To encourage victims to come forward, the government approved a bill to better protect their identity. Yet when the administrator of the Instagram page that attracted the first testimonies tried to expose a second high-profile…
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Egypt lawmakers approve bill to protect sex assault victims’ identity

Egypt lawmakers approve bill to protect sex assault victims’ identity

MENNA A FAROUK EGYPTIAN lawmakers on Tuesday approved a draft law that would give survivors of sexual assault and harassment the automatic right to anonymity, under pressure to do more to encourage women to report such crimes. The government drafted the bill in July to try to encourage reporting of sexual violence, which women's rights campaigners say is rife in Egypt but often goes unreported because victims fear a backlash or pressure to withdraw their claims. The move follows the arrest of a man accused of raping and blackmailing multiple women, many of whom had been unwilling to go to…
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Egypt orders arrests after Instagram account exposes gang rape

Egypt orders arrests after Instagram account exposes gang rape

MENNA A FAROUK EGYPTIAN authorities have ordered the arrests of a group of men accused of being involved in a gang rape at a Cairo hotel amid a rare debate about sex crimes that started on social media and has fuelled a growing #MeToo movement. Lack of action over the 2014 incident, that was reported to have involved six men from powerful families, caused an uproar after being disclosed in July by an Instagram account with more than 180,000 followers that aims to expose sex attackers. The case came after the same Instagram account, Assault Police, named a university student…
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Egypt’s #MeToo crusader fights sex crimes via Instagram

Egypt’s #MeToo crusader fights sex crimes via Instagram

MENNA A. FAROUK AFTER exposing two major sexual assaults in her first two months as an Instagram activist, and spurring Egypt to bring in a law to protect victims' identities, Nadeen Ashraf has bigger plans. The 22-year-old student wants to turn her #MeToo-style Instagram account Assault Police, which has emboldened hundreds of Egyptian women to speak out about violence, into an advocacy group that can win justice for sexual assault survivors. "I want to create an entity on a wide scale where women can go to when they experience any violence to help them get their rights," Ashraf told the…
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Could Egypt’s #MeToo movement be the tinder for a ‘feminist revolution’?

Could Egypt’s #MeToo movement be the tinder for a ‘feminist revolution’?

MENNA A FAROUK IN just two months, Egypt's burgeoning #MeToo movement has exposed sexual assaults, spurred legal reform and emboldened hundreds of abuse victims including celebrities to speak out, sparking a long-overdue debate about gender inequality. Now, rights activists in the conservative country say keeping the social media campaign's momentum going hinges on taking the message offline to reach poorer women, especially in rural areas, and changing attitudes in the justice system. "I hope this momentum does not remain in the upper- and middle-class segments of society but moves downwards to the lower social classes as well," said Entessar El-Saeed,…
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Egypt court starts sex crimes trial of student in #MeToo case

Egypt court starts sex crimes trial of student in #MeToo case

MENNA A. FAROUK A former Cairo university student appeared in court charged with blackmail and indecent assault of at least three women in a closely-watched case prompted by social media that opened up a rare public debate on sex crimes. Ahmed Bassam Zaki, aged in his early 20s and a former student at the American University in Cairo, attended a closed session with the trial adjourned to November 7, a lawyer from the defence team, Ahmed Ragheb, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. In September, the public prosecutor referred Zaki to the criminal court on charges of "sexually assaulting three girls…
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One year on, Tunisia’s #MeToo movement grapples with race

One year on, Tunisia’s #MeToo movement grapples with race

BAN BARKAWI FEMINIST activist Khawla Ksiksi did not expect a backlash from supporters of her country's #MeToo movement when she used the campaign to highlight the double discrimination faced by Black women in Tunisia. Inspired by the global movement to expose sexual abuse and harassment, Tunisian women's campaigners launched their own version #EnaZeda in 2019, sparking street protests and a long-overdue debate about sexual violence and gender inequality.  But 28-year-old Ksiksi, who is Black, said that while EnaZeda had been instrumental in helping women speak up against sexual abuse, awareness about racism in the North African country was still in…
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Egypt student jailed for 3 yrs for online sexual harassment

Egypt student jailed for 3 yrs for online sexual harassment

MENNA A FAROUK A former Cairo student was jailed for three years on Tuesday for using social media to sexually harass women and will face charges of sexual assault next month in a case that triggered a #MeToo moment in the country. Ahmed Bassam Zaki, formerly at the American University in Cairo, will face the court again on Jan. 9 on charges of indecent assault and blackmail investigated after scores of women joined an Instagram campaign to accuse him of sex crimes. The case has attracted widespread attention from media, religious figures and women's groups in a country where rights…
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