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TV presenter Bahnassy suspended over sexual assault comments

TV presenter Bahnassy suspended over sexual assault comments
Maha bahnassy an anchorwoman at Tahrir satellite channel.
Maha bahnassy an anchorwoman at Tahrir satellite channel.

Maha Bahnassy, a television presenter who recently caused an outrage after commenting on sexual assault cases during President Al-Sisi’s inaugural celebrations, was suspended from privately owned channel Tahrir.

“The people are happy, they are having fun,” commented Bahnassy during a live broadcast for Tahrir satellite channel after receiving reports of sexual assault in Tahrir square.

Bahnassy’s comments caused a widespread outrage and received criticism from women’s rights activists.

Following the incident, Tahrir channel apologized for Bahnassy’s comments and further emphasized their commitment to protecting women’s rights and raising awareness about sexual harassment.

Several cases of sexual assault were reported Sunday evening during President Al-Sisi’s inaugural celebrations in Tahrir square.

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  • Ann Murphy

    Unfortunately many women are conditioned to believe that men in this country can do what they what. Its the way they are raised. I see it in my husband’s family here in Luxor. The boys can be spoiled and ‘taught’ to treat the women and girls in their family that they are only there for their benefit. Chattel only. Add that to the mix of internet porn, the tourist industry where foreign women are seen only a means to make money and have unlimited sex, and the crap they show on TV and you can see exactly why this is happening. Boys/men think that they can have what the want, including women. As a sexual abuse counselor I find this a very difficult reality to live in and it will take years of de-programming, of both women and men, before these beliefs will change. Harsher punishments might help but it hasn’t made a difference in the West so I can’t see it making much of a difference here! If the women themselves can be taught to fight back then change might come quicker. This week we had an incidence in the Soul where a 20-something year old ‘boy’ molested a woman. He expected her to be too embarrassed to do anything, but she took off her shoe and proceeded to beat him with it. When other people there saw what was happening, and why, they grabbed the very surprised man, undressed him and forced him to run home with no underwear. Now he was the embarrassed one! However, when I was molested, by a teenage boy, I reacted the same way. I turned and hit him and yelled in his face. However, in my case, because I was a foreigner, they rushed to help him!!!! I was just seen as a crazy foreigner and obviously he was doing nothing wrong because they all think that the only reason I am living here is for the sex; therefore it is my own fault and only what I should expect as a 52 year old woman married to an Egyptian man. Everyone around me just laughed, once they had rescued him from my ire.
    So really, it is going to take a long time for things to change here.
    I don’t like how this presenter reacted but it sounded to me like she was trying to brush over it in good Egyptian fashion because they were live on TV and this was supposed to be a celebration. She obviously didn’t realise the seriousness of the events.I think teaching her about sexual abuse and rape might be a better way of dealing with this issue. Apart from that, these presenters are often on TV for the same reason. They are used as eye candy and have no real understanding of anything serious in the news. They are not able, or allowed, to think for themselves. They are as exploited by the News stations as any other woman in Egypt. Only the serious stations have intelligent, free-thinking female presenters.
    There is a lot to change around here and if the Tahrir channel was serious about this it would have ‘normal’ intelligent female presenters instead of the pretty young things that they do have!

    • michael

      Very well explained but where there is a will there is way.
      I admire you for what you want to achieve , good luck and God bless you

    • Amr

      Ann – I do respect your opinion. Most of what you’ve said is absolutely true about the Egyptians. I’m very Egyptian by the way and love my country. Let me share with you how a very Egyptian man brought up on these thoughts and how he changed his mindset.
      Yes, we brought-up on the idea of that the West is just for sex & money. When you arrive to Western soil, you’ll find girls on the left, money on the right. Absolutely, rubbish!! I’ve lived in UK for almost year and half. One year alone “before getting married” and 6 months after with my wife. What I’ve learnt is…
      – Our governments used to brought up us on this thinking because to always fear the West because if we like the Western people, we will look for things that will rock their thrones.
      – Also we brought up on single minded thoughts. We don’t even try to accept different opinions which might be beneficial to everyone
      – We brought up on if you don’t agree with my opinion then you’re wrong. May both of us are right but with two different approaches.
      – Also, West didn’t give the chance to us to see us closely. I think it started to change now.
      – For me, in my small and big family “middle class”, I see the women are more dominating than men. Not for week personality but fathers are busy to get money or working with the outside world which is way more tough for women to handle.
      – For sexual harassment, it’s completely rejected by all means. It can be easily resolved by (apply the rules and legislation to everyone, educating people, training girls how to avoid this in the first place and eventually how to defend herself). Apart from saying encouraging the society to deny and reject such actions. Most obviously, to increase the middle class society.

      At the end, I see the West is people as we are they have their problems and challenges exactly as we have but those challenges are different. They spent huge time and effort to reach what they have reached now. We need spent the same or even more. We have also to accept different traditions or cultures “such drinking alcohol” or “having relationship before marriage” nothing to shame about. Just they are different and we are different than them.

      Now I do respect even people to warship animals or those who atheists.

      • Bystanding Witness

        Hi Amr – I read with interest your reply to Ann. While you sure know how you were brought up I do oppose you generalizing – this is NOT the way average Egyptians (boys and girls) are brought up – neither is the way Ann describes BTW. I’m surrounded mostly by families who bring their kids up to respect themselves and, hence, others too. More important, they’re brought up (both gender) to take responsibilities for their actions. That’s what’s often missing in today’s education – here as well as in the West. It used to be that if we did something wrong in school we got punished by the teacher and got at home another round of punishment; today the parents in the US sue the school instead of further instilling in their kids whats right and wrong.

        What I really take issue with is your comment: “… training girls how to avoid this in the first place…”. It is DEFINITELY NOT the girls fault if she gets assaulted. Nothing justifies a sexual assault on girls, women or men for that matter. NOTHING! You sound quite reasonable but with this little remark you move close to those fundamentalists who wish that we women are invisible! Let me repeat: IT IS NOT THE WOMAN’s FAULT if she gets assaulted.
        There’s a long way to change this thinking; in Europe and the US they managed to change … many have truly changed, many only at the surface. But it will sink in eventually. After all – do we blame a murder victim or a robbery victim for having been murdered or robbed? So why blame an assault victim?!

        • Amr

          Hi Bystanding Witness, I liked you comment. 🙂

          Sorry if my comment made you uncomfortable. I am not generalizing and never come closer to it but I’m stating facts from what I can see in families and the streets. Before we argue this, we need to define the average Egyptians and what are their percentage. This is the root cause to drive any nations. May be we see things from different perspectives. I’m sharing my thoughts and I’m sharing what I see on the ground. For me, this is nothing to ashamed of, bad things always happen. What really matters how to face & fix and not bury them.

          Also, I would like to share with you that my wife is doctor. I am doing everything in hands to flatten the hurdles she might face in life and her career. Sometimes, I leave her to experience life herself. She needs to face the reality and one day I might not be there. The bottom line is, I do care about my wife’s career as my career. This will definitely benefits NOT only her but also the children and myself. BUT I will do whatever it takes to make her and kids secure.

          For sexual assaults, I do agree with you. It’s completely rejected and not justified by any means. I am not saying this things ONLY girls faults. But I’m trying to advice here. You can’t tell me that you let them go out for insecure places and expect them to come back safe. There is always a percentage for possibilities. For this issue, the possibilities are very high. Again, I strongly dis-encourage girls to go out and dance in such crowds; especially are these moments. As you said by educations, this will change.

        • Ann Murphy

          I am describing the boys and men where I live here on the West Bank of Luxor. I live in a village community and it is exactly as I describe. They are brought up to believe that they can do anything they want. They are set no boundaries and live as though the world was there for them only. Women are there to serve them. I guess if you are having a different experience to mine then perhaps it is a more affluent segment of society. Here, where the majority of people are poor and who rely on tourist money and sex to exist, it is very different. Things have very much changed since my husband’s day but I do not see many emotionally healthy people here, especially in regard to how women are treated.
          But I totally agree with you. It is never a woman’s fault if she is assaulted or raped. However, having worked as a rape crisis counsellor in the UK I disagree with attitudes changing. They might appear to have changed, especially in comparison with Egypt but in reality, even in a court of law, the woman will automatically be seen as somehow having ‘invited’ the assault. So even in the West there is a long, long way to go.

          • Bystanding Witness

            Hi Ann – absolutely agree with you on both counts (different segment and the rape/court issue). The way you describe the upbringing of the boys in your part of Egypt resounds with me; that’s how the Italian boys were (still are in most parts) brought up. There’s never ever anything wrong with what they do and the girls/women are there to please them – whichever way. Italian men also stay with La Mamma until marriage; if they remain single they stay with Mamma!
            As for the attitude towards women and/or rape victims: sadly the changes are, as you say, mostly superficial. Beneath is the same old and so WRONG thinking. I assume it’s in part self-protection as they would have to otherwise face the ugly truth. Thankfully, the majority of men doesn’t fall into this sick category and do respect themselves and, hence, the women too.
            Stay safe “up there”!

      • Ann Murphy

        That’s interesting Amr. My husband’s family is a poorer class and they really have very traditional beliefs. They are also a very abused society themselves. The men rule the roost, and the women learn to lie and cheat and manipulate to get what they want. But to me the men are also weak, they just have all the power.
        Education makes all the difference. My own husband, although very Upper Egyptian, is also very open to new ideas and I can see how he struggles with opposing views. The good thing is he looks at it, studies it, tries to find where his beliefs are open to change. Same as you. He doesn’t find it easy, but he manages, and to be fair, he only married me for the same reasons that many Egyptian men do! We have a good relationship now as he has learned, the hard way, to see me as a woman, with ideas of my own, and rights of own. He listens to me now and will back me up with his family when we have problems. He has had his own narrow-minded view of western women but he is learning to see them all as people!
        Going to live in a western country must be just as challenging as it is for us to come and live in Egypt! But it sounds like you have made very good use of it. I think we should all do swaps and live in countries very different to our own for a time. It is a huge education.

    • Bystanding Witness

      Sorry to hear this, Ann – hope you’re well now. I can tell you a number of opposite tales (from Cairo and Alex) were Egyptian men came to the rescue of the women (foreigners and Egyptians). My 2 housekeepers come by public transport and often tell me stories too. They had their fair share of disrespectful behaviour. They’ve learned in THEIR home how to defend themselves and make use of it. They’re not to be shamed into silence. Never did it happen to them or to any of us foreigners that Egyptians helped the attackers – NEVER. You must have strange folks up in Luxor – maybe it’s the sun? We should also not close our eyes in front of the undeniable fact that many women from Europe and the US come here (and to other Arabic countries) on a holiday just for one reason – sex. Upsetting as this is – it’s fact. This doesn’t mean to excuse any misbehaviour just to be clear on that. But we should not brush this under the carpet either.
      One thing though is for sure: rather than portraying Egyptian men as THE outstanding odd men we should admit that the violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon and it’s on the RAISE. See India were every hour a woman gets killed (we don’t even talk about rape anymore); see the US where every 2 MINUTES a sexual assault takes place; etc., etc. It’s cheap to make this a unique Egyptian problem as many want to have it today.
      The way out is education in parallel with self-defense training for women as well as stopping the blame/shame game that it’s the women’s fault if they get assaulted. And rather than applying Aspirin we should try to analyze and solve the root of the problem. Wish you safety.

      • Ann Murphy

        I agree. There are women who come here for a ‘romantic interlude’ and what they don’t realize is that Egyptian men are culturally different. I know so many men who hightail it to Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh because the women there have no ‘morals’. Neither do they, but that is not acknowledged. Luxor, on the other hand, is neither of those two places, but people who visit here have no idea how to dress and men here think that they are all fair game! It is primarily an Islamic country. You cannot come here and think you are going a beech in Brighton!!!
        But men here now see all foreign women as meat. We have had numerous sexual assaults on foreign women in the last few weeks here. Women who are older, in their sixties etc! Not young women.
        I also personally know quite a few young men who court foreign women, either in person or online, with a few to illicit sexual relations or to steal from them, or to go to their country. If you could hear what these men say about these women, it would make your hair curl! The women, on the other hand, believe they are loved by these men. THEY ARE NOT. They are being used and abused. It is very difficult to warn the women about he man’s behavior because they just don’t beleive it! Its so sad and its a huge problem here in Luxor.
        But I do agree with your opinion about women in all countries. Rape and sexual violence towards women is rife. Too much garbage and violence on TV, movies and internet. Huge problem. Huge business. It really will be down to women to change things for themselves and like you say that involves education!
        Sadly here too we are seeing many more rapes of young boys here in Luxor too. We had three cases in one week! There is no support here for children either! Rape in general is on the rise, possibly because there are no tourists!!!

  • michael

    This lady suspend from the TV network is an easy way out, I think she should be prosecuted for her comments, she is as criminal as these dogs who committed that crime, any body who encourage a crime of rape is as guilty as the one committed it .
    Mocking and laughing at crimes is an offence !!!
    my opinion that lady is a bitch !!!!

    • Aldo Cervelli

      Maybe someone should have fun as she say ,,,,and RAPE her …..Then we’ll see what she have to say ,,,

      • michael

        I think she was jealous not to have a bit of fun herself, she must be a slut

        • Ann Murphy

          Michael thanks for the comment, but I sure hope this one is a large dose of sarcasm????? :-/

  • Sara

    Disgusting thing to do!

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