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Egyptian woman jailed for complaining about sexual harassment

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Anna Brech
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After one woman shares her truth, the result is a prison sentence

An Egyptian woman who shared her experience of sexual harassment in a bank has been jailed for two years for “spreading fake news”.

Activist Amal Fathy has been in prison since May, when she posted a Facebook video that criticised the Egyptian government for not doing enough to protect women.

Police swooped on her home in a dawn raid soon after she uploaded her 12-minute message, arresting her along with her husband and their three-year-old child.

The latter two were later released but Fathy was put on trial for possessing indecent material and attempting to harm the state.

She has already spent over 140 days in jail and now faces a two-year sentence and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (around £430). 

Over 99% of women in Egypt have been sexually harassed according to a 2013 survey by the UN, and its capital Cairo has been named the most dangerous city in the world for women, based on data analysis from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Women in Egypt routinely face sexual harassment 

Amnesty International condemned the ruling and called for Fathy’s immediate release.

“Amal Fathy is now facing a disgraceful sentence simply for her courage to speak out against sexual harassment,” says North Africa campaigns manager Najia Bounaim.

“This is an outrageous case of injustice, where the survivor is sentenced while the abuser remains at large.” 

The incident comes amid a series of videos depicting sexual harassment that have caused anger - and furious debate - among Egyptians on social media.

Attitudes around sexual harassment lie at the heart of the issue. Polls show that many people in the country believe women are to blame for inviting persecution, even by acts as benign as laughing in public.

However,  Cairo-based journalist Shahira Amin says that, after years of silence, the #MeToo movement is now encouraging women to share their experiences of verbal and physical intimidation.

Images: Amnesty International, Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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