Posted July 16, 2020 9:28 am by

In Egypt, sexual predator case reignites #MeToo debate

Cairo, Egypt, Jul 16 – Egypt has seen a strong resurgence of the #MeToo movement after dozens of women made shocking claims of sexual abuse and assault by a member of the country’s wealthy elite.

Amid a campaign unprecedented in its intensity in the deeply conservative country, state and religious authorities have started to take a firmer stand.

The latest outpouring of anger, on the Instagram account “Assault Police”, centres on allegations against Ahmed Bassam Zaki, a 22-year-old former student of some of Egypt’s most elite schools and universities.

They have ranged from claims that he took part in a rape at the gym hall of a gated residential community to screen-grabs showing salacious messages and blackmail of women. Some alleged incidents involved girls as young as 14.

Police on July 4 arrested Zaki who, according to prosecutors, has confessed to assaulting at least six girls including one aged under 18 and to blackmailing the victims.

In this file photo from 2013 protesters hold up placards and shout slogans during a demonstration against sexual harassment in Egypt’s capital Cairo © AFP/File / Khaled DESOUKI

While Zaki is awaiting trial, his case has kicked off a wave of other complaints in a society where, United Nations surveys say, most women have experienced catcalling, pinching, groping or worse.

“Women immediately jumped at the opportunity to vent and tell their stories,” the Instagram page administrator told AFP, requesting anonymity for fear of reprisals.

“It is now bigger than Ahmed Bassam Zaki. We receive a dozen messages per minute from girls and women telling of personal incidents of harassment, abuse and rape, some dating back years.”

– Victim-blaming –

Following Zaki’s arrest, the campaign has swept up other well-known figures.

One of them is Mohamed Hashem, a writer and founder of a top publishing house, who was detained over harassment allegations but later released on bail.

The current momentum builds on earlier #MeToo waves in Egypt, the latest in January following a mob assault on two women in Mansoura, north of Cairo, on New Year’s Eve.

The Zaki case highlights that sexual assault and harassment — widely perceived to be more prevalent among the poorer classes — pervades all levels of society.

In Egypt, sexual predator case reignites #MeToo debate

A protester at a 2013 rally in Cairo holds a placard pledging an ‘uprising of women in the Arab world’ © AFP/File / Khaled DESOUKI

Zaki is a former student of the prestigious American Read More…In Egypt, sexual predator case reignites #MeToo debate  In Egypt, sexual predator case reignites #MeToo debate  In Egypt, sexual predator case reignites #MeToo debate  In Egypt, sexual predator case reignites #MeToo debate