• Wednesday, Oct 21, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:41 pm

Egypt grapples with women's freedoms online as #MeToo re-emerges

  • Published at 06:42 pm August 2nd, 2020
Int'l- Egypt grapples with women's freedoms online as #MeToo re-emerges
File photo: In this combination of file pictures created on July 29, 2020 shows a woman watching videos of (L to R) Egyptian influencers Haneen Hossam and Mowada al-Adham, who were sentenced to two years in prison on charges of violation public morals, on the video-sharing app TikTok in Egypt's capital Cairo AFP

Many in the deeply conservative country have cheered on the arrests, as traditional social values clash with online content seen as racy and sexually suggestive

Social media has become a new and dangerous battleground for women's rights in Egypt after young TikTok influencers were jailed while a resurgent #MeToo movement decried male sexual violence.

Last Monday, a court sentenced five female social media influencers, Haneen Hossam, Mowada al-Adham and three others, to two years in jail each on charges of violating public morals over content posted to video-sharing app TikTok. 

International digital rights group Access Now described them as "all women, all young, all exercising their right to freedom of expression online."

Just two days later, a court sentenced another young social media influencer, Manar Samy, to three years in prison over TikTok videos, deeming the clips in which she dances and lip-syncs to popular songs to be "inciting debauchery."

Many in the deeply conservative country have cheered on the arrests, as traditional social values clash with online content seen as racy and sexually suggestive.  

"The Egyptian government is on a campaign to arrest and prosecute women influencers on... TikTok for violating 'the values of the Egyptian family' and 'inciting debauchery and immorality,'" Access Now said in a statement.  

The Egyptian authorities "not only want to control what citizens say, but also how they should dress, talk, and behave online," said Marwa Fatafta, the group's Middle East and North Africa policy manager.

'Stronghold on the internet'

Egypt has in recent years enforced strict internet controls as it walks a tight line between balancing the Islamic law that shapes its governance and adapting to a rapidly shifting society with a penchant for social media content. 

Stringent laws were approved in 2018 allowing authorities to block websites seen as a threat to national security and to monitor personal social media accounts with over 5,000 followers. 

"In the past, the Egyptian regime tightened its stronghold on the internet... Now, the online repression extends to non-political activity too," said Fatafta. 

The six jailed women combined have millions of followers. 

Hossam was arrested after posting a clip saying that girls could make money by working with her, a message that was interpreted as a call for prostitution, while Adham had posted satirical videos on TikTok and Instagram. 

Aside from being a virtual battleground of competing interpretations of morality, social media has also empowered young Egyptian women to speak up about sexual assault, sometimes with negative consequences. 

In May, a shocking video came to light of a young woman sobbing, her face battered and bruised. 

Menna Abdel-Aziz, 17, posted an Instagram video in which she said she had been gang raped by a group of young men. 

The authorities' response was swift: the six alleged attackers were arrested -- but so was Abdel-Aziz. All were charged with "promoting debauchery."

51
51
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail