Egypt’s Public Prosecution announced on Thursday that it had ordered the arrest of seven men involved in a mass sexual assault case in the Mit Ghamr city of Daqahliya.
The arrests came after social media posts went viral when Bassant, the victim of the crime, exposed the incident and found herself facing further threats and harassment.
In its statement, the Public Prosecution said it had received information from the victim on the assault by the seven men who surrounded her on a Mit Ghamr street, as well as security camera footage that revealed the seven men and their vehicles, a car and a motorcycle.
The statement also asked social media users to not share inaccurate information about the case, warning against the spread of rumors.
The Public Prosecution’s statement expressed that a group of men formed a circle around the victim and harassed her, touching her private parts, and pushing themselves against her.
After sparking outrage on social media, she later filed a complaint to authorities but found herself facing abuse and threats.
Bassant posted a number of messages and appeared on Lamees Al Hadidy’s show where she asked for protection, saying that she feared for her life after being threatened to drop her accusations.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the suspects were arrested after they were identified by security cameras, according to a statement from the public prosecution.
MISOGYNY AND SEXISM
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After sharing her story, Bassant was exposed to a wide misogynistic campaign on social media, with Facebook groups being created against her and the women that share their stories of sexual abuse.
She was threatened through private messages shared online, and her personal photos from social media were shared without consent; infringing on her privacy.
On the Instagram Page ‘Speak Up’, a video was shared showing the abusers’ lawyer Hany Ebeida threatening to sue her for ‘violating family values’.
In response, a viral hashtag in support of Bassant circulated on social media, #ادعم_بسنت (Support Bassant), which also reached international audiences, such as the Ambassador of Ireland to Egypt who expressed his support on Twitter and condemned the lawyer’s comments, calling them revolting.
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Since July, there has been a wave of exposure of sexual predators on Egyptian social media, following the case of Ahmed Bassam Zaki who was accused of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment of more than 50 Egyptian and foreign women.
After Zaki’s arrest, Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly approved a legislative amendment in the criminal code to protect the identities of victims of harassment, rape, and assault during court cases.
The amendment enables prosecutors to conceal the data of victims coming forward with their reports in order to protect them from possible retribution from perpetrators or external parties.
Concurrently, activists in Egypt launched a digital campaign demanding the release of all women arrested on debauchery charges.
This year, Egyptian prosecutors have ordered the detention of nine female TikTokers under provisions of the country’s controversial 2018 cybercrime law, which criminalizes acts that violate Egyptian family values.
The campaign criticizes the Egyptian family values clause in the cybercrime law, which activists and legal experts have long criticized for its vagueness.