Detained Egyptian human rights activist and actress Amal Fathy has been sentenced for 2 years in prison and received a EGP 10,000 fine on 29 September for “spreading false news” and bad mouthing the state on a social media video.
The 33-year-old released a 12 minute video on Facebook in May, where she voiced two sexual harassment incidents she experienced on the same day. She bashed the government for not protecting women against sexual harassment, an epidemic that has taken over the country.
The first incident was in a taxi. She said that the driver was looking at her inappropriately through the overhead mirror while saying “disgusting things.” The other incident was by a security guard at the state-own institution, Banque Misr, who projected predatory behavior towards her.
According to Amnesty International, the security services barged in Fathy’s house in Maadi at dawn two days after posting the video arresting her, her husband, Mohamed Lotfy, and 3-year-old child. While her husband and child were later released, Fathy remained in custody as part of a criminal case filed by the Public Prosecution.
Fathy’s lawyer, Doaa Mustafa, told the AFP that Fathy could be released on a EGP 20,000 bail. However, the activist is still in custody awaiting the verdict for a trial where she is being accused of “being a member in a terrorist group.”
“This is an outrageous case of injustice, where the survivor is sentenced while the abuser remains at large,” Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director, said. “She is a human rights defender and sexual harassment survivor, who told her truth to the world and highlighted the vital issue of women’s safety in Egypt,” she added.
While there have been various efforts by the government to counteract sexual harassment in Egypt, it is still a prevailing problem that threatens all women who step on the streets of Egypt. In August, the Islamic religious institution, Al Azhar, condemned sexual harassment and declared the act is forbidden regardless of the women’s clothing and behavior.