The Cairo Criminal Court issued a verdict earlier today, Sunday the 20th, sentencing Haneen Hossam to 10 years in prison and ordered her to pay a EGP 200,000 fine. The court also sentenced Mawada Aladhm and three others to six years in prison and imposed a EGP 200,000 fine on each. All five defendants were charged with human trafficking, according to Al Masry al Youm. The proceedings were presided over by justice Mohamed Ahmed El Gendy.
Hossam and Aladhm were arrested last year and sentenced to prison in July 2020 by the Cairo Economic Court after being found guilty of violating Egyptian family values and inciting debauchery. In January 2021, Hossam was acquitted of the charge earlier this year and Aladhm’s prison sentence was overturned.
The prosecution has accused them of human trafficking and running social media accounts with the aim of recruiting young women for video sharing platform Likee, as well as publishing video content deemed inappropriate by authorities—charges the two women have vehemently denied.
TikTok Arrest Campaign
Hossam and Aladhm are among nine women TikTok content creators arrested last year on charges ranging from ‘violating family values’ to human trafficking and inciting debauchery. The arrest campaign drew condemnation from human and women’s rights groups who contend that authorities disproportionately targeted women from low-income backgrounds using vaguely worded and controversial legal codes, namely ‘violating family values’.
The charges were brought under provisions of the country’s controversial 2018 cyber crime law, which criminalizes acts that violate Egyptian family values without defining clear legal parameters of what constitutes an act of violating said values. Legal experts and activists argue that the vaguely worded clause leads to unfair criminalization and is disproportionately used to police women’s bodies.
Activists also argue that the arrests were initially motivated by the women’s appearance and choice of clothing on social media, which violates their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of dress and expression.