On Thursday, Nadeen Ashraf, founder of Assault Police, was the sole honoree of the Equality Now Virtual Gala, receiving the Changemaker Award presented by Gucci.
At the “Make Equality Reality” Gala featuring appearances by international figures including Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep, Ashraf spoke about the final push that inspired her to start her account Assault Police, and her realization that being silenced as a woman is what prohibits change.
Equality Now is a New York-based NGO advocating for the protection and promotion of human rights of women and girls using legal methods, founded in 1992. They run an international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters that aim to end sexual violence. The “Make Equality Reality” Gala raises money to support their team of human rights lawyers.
“I want to be able to make a change. I’d like to tell the younger generation that you can use social media for change, even if it’s TikTok,” Ashraf said to the Gala’s attendees.
Ashraf started her Instagram account “Assault Police” in July 2020 in growing frustration during Ahmed Bassam Zaki’s multiple account assaults that were publicized. Assault Police was a fundamental part of the growth of the campaign and continued to help publicize assault by other cases in the community, such as the Fairmont Cases.
“I grew extremely frustrated at the adults in our community and their irresponsible blatant disregard of our voices. And so naturally, like many of those in my generation often do, I took my frustrations to Instagram,” Ashraf told Egyptian Streets in an interview last September.
The Gala highlighted Ashraf’s part in leading to the law that was approved in Egypt concealing the identity of sexual harassment, assault, and rape victims, through her campaigns.
The Assault Police account soon became a large hub for women’s rights in Egypt and a proponent of spreading knowledge. In recent weeks, they’ve shared posts about topics from marital rape in Egyptian law to contact information for the internet police, and advice for women in compromising situations.
Since coming forward as the Assault Police founder, Ashraf has been featured in The New York Times and The Economist, and was on BBC’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’ of 2020.
The 22-year-old student at The American University in Cairo was congratulated in the Equality Now Gala by Omar Samra, Egyptian activist and adventurer, who expressed his pride in sharing his alma mater with the brave activist, and emphasized the importance of men’s contribution to women’s equality and safety.
“The international recognition and solidarity with the movement here in Egypt is incredibly uplifting! I’m so honored and excited to be a recipient of this year’s Changemaker Award,” Ashraf said.