Egypt court sentences activist who complained online about sexual harassment

Amal Fathy was convicted of spreading fake news, fined and is still being detained as she waits for her trial on ‘terrorism’ charges

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2018, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2018, 11:14pm

An Egyptian court on Saturday handed a two-year suspended jail sentence to a female human rights activist arrested in May after posting a video complaining about sexual harassment in Egypt, her lawyer said.

Amal Fathy, 33, was convicted of spreading fake news and fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$560 dollars), her lawyer Doaa Mustafa said.

“We will challenge the ruling,” Mustafa said, adding that Fathy could pay 20,000 pounds to have her sentence suspended.

However, Fathy is still in detention awaiting trial in another case in which she is accused of “membership in a terrorist group”, her lawyer said.

Amnesty International denounced as “disgraceful” the verdict against Fathy who, it said, was sentenced “simply for her courage to speak out against sexual harassment”.

“This is an outrageous case of injustice, where the survivor is sentenced while the abuser remains at large,” the rights group’s Najia Bounaim said in a statement.

Fathy “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”, Bounaim said.

“She is not a criminal and should not be punished for her bravery.”

Fathy was arrested in May after posting a Facebook video in which she accused authorities of failing to protect women and charging that guards at a bank had sexually harassed her.

Some 60 per cent of women in Egypt said they had been victims of some form of sexual harassment during their life, according to a 2017 report from UN Women and Promundo.

‘Islamic extremists persecuted us, now we’re trapped in Hong Kong’

Public debate over harassment intensified after the January 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.

The protests demanding Mubarak’s removal centred around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where constant media coverage highlighted sexual attacks and helped show public denial of the phenomenon.

Following the uprising, anti-harassment graffiti spread around downtown Cairo, volunteers teamed up to rescue women from mob attacks and more women shared their stories publicly.