Egypt puts "TikTok Girls" in prison

A Cairo court sentenced Haneen Hossam (20) and Mowada el-Adham (22) to two years' imprisonment and a fine of 300000 Egyptian pounds (around 15000 euros) for further broadcasting the social network TikTok, popular with young people around the world, on Instagram and elsewhere.

You are the first to convict at least nine Egyptian women known as “TikTok Girls” who have been arrested since April for their social media appearances. Three men were sentenced to the same sentence as "co-conspirators" for helping Hossam and al-Adham to be featured on social media. “In their 15-second clips,” according to the AP report,

“Women who wear makeup pose in cars, dance in the kitchen and joke in skits - familiar and seemingly tame content for the platform. But their popularity on social media has been their downfall in Egypt, where citizens can end up in jail for vague crimes such as "social media abuse", "spreading false news" or "inciting debauchery and immorality ”. “

Accused of “procuring”

Haneen Hossam was arrested in March after a Internettumult because of a video in which they had an internet platform called as advertised who pays users money to entice other people to join as well.

In the three-minute video, Hossam said she wanted to start a group for girls over 18 who could "make money" this way from home. She was then accused of “procuring”.

À Mowada el-Adham, who was arrested in May, no one can give an exact cause that led to the arrest - other than being famous and feminine, and known for sometimes satirical lip-syncing and dance videos. The blog For exampleetptian streets abstract their work together on social media as follows:

“Content from her final days on Instagram shows how el-Adham mourns the deaths of Egyptian soldiers who were martyred in Sinai, how she tells people to stay home, and how she interviews a nutritionist. On TikTok, current videos show how she drives an expensive car, dances in a shark romper, wishes people a Happy Ramadan, moves her lips in sync with an Arabic song, and more. “

State repression

In stark contrast to the gravity of these "acts" is the energy with which the authorities apparently attacked El-Adham. Egyptian streets reports that since the police could not find her at her home during the attempted arrest, they found her cell phone and were looking for her car. She had already been arrested in March for violating the curfew.

Like the British newspaper The independent reported, the el-Adham prosecutor also wanted to perform a “virginity test” to find out if she had ever had vaginal sex. She refused, according to the newspaper. according to According to the World Health Organization WHO, the “virginity test” is performed by authorities in at least 20 countries around the world. WHO writes:

“Virginity tests are often done by examining the hymen for cracks or the size of the opening, and / or inserting the fingers into the vagina (the two-finger test). Both techniques are practiced on the assumption that the appearance of the female genitalia may indicate the sexual activity of a girl or a woman. WHO says there is no evidence that either of these methods can prove whether a woman or girl has had vaginal sex or not. “

WHO and other United Nations bodies have called on Egypt and other countries to end this practice, but to no avail.

“Systematic and organized action against women”

Several other women known to social media and known as "TikTok Girls" are currently in custody awaiting trial. The cases continue in a wave that has been evident for years: not only human rights activists and critics of the regime are targeted by Egyptian authorities, but also women who do not express themselves politically but are public in a way the regime doesn't like.

On the one hand, this includes women who because they've posted reports online on social media that they've been raped or some other form of sexual assault.

Given this persecution of victims and the impunity of the vast majority of perpetrators, it was a momentous event when hundreds of Egyptian women recently publicly denounced a man of sexual assault and blackmail. regarder and this time, the alleged perpetrator was arrested instead of the victim. But this is the exception.

“Violation of Egyptian family values”

It wasn't until May that 17-year-old Menna Abdel-Aziz, also known from TikTok, after posting a video showing her with facial injuries that appeared to be due to abuse. She reported that a 25-year-old man she named raped her and that her friends filmed the rape and blackmailed it.

Although the alleged perpetrators were arrested days later and a forensic investigation revealed Abdel-Aziz's testimony confirmed, she was also arrested and charged with “abuse of social networks, incitement to debauchery and violation of Egyptian family values”. In June, the charges against her were dropped and Abdel-Aziz was sent to a center for battered women. briefed.

On the other hand, many prominent women are arrested for dressing in a way that the regime or religious authorities disapprove of. One such case was that of actress Rania Youssef, who, because of a revealing dress - whose upper arms and thighs were visible - was arrested.

Again and again, Egyptian singers Sentenced to prison for music videos. In April, she became a belly dancer Sama el-Masry also arrested for "debauchery" and "violation of family values" because the prosecutor said she found material "sexually suggestive" of her on TikTok. El-Masry said it was stolen from his cell phone and downloaded without his knowledge. In June, she was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 300000 Egyptian pounds. condemned.

Intimidation of non-compliant women

Anonymous activists have one on July 15 Internetpetition in which they demand the release of all women imprisoned for "debauchery". They write:

“We take note of this systematic and organized crackdown on women on TikTok. It starts with men creating content on Youtube and targeting female users who don't agree with their moral position.

When these men pillory women, defame them, and threaten them with imprisonment, they foster a culture of violence that normalizes and justifies the punishment of named women. The prosecution follows these men's allegations against women TikTokers and issues an arrest warrant. “

German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Bärbel Kofler, wrote in a press release that she was “appalled by the series of arrests and convictions of young influencers and bloggers in Egypt”. Mawada el-Adham and Haneen Hossam were “sentenced to jail terms and absurdly high fines”. She also shared:

"This type of restriction on freedom of expression, which particularly targets young women who communicate very successfully on social networks on various subjects, must be firmly rejected!" These judgments, whose legal basis is questionable, aim to intimidate a whole generation of brave young women! “

The German federal government discusses human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, “regularly in discussions with representatives of the Egyptian government,” Kofler continued.

This post first appeared at Mena watch.

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