Two TikTok influencers, Haneen Hossam and Mawada Eladhm, who were sentenced to two years in prison in Cairo last July on charges of violating family principles have just been freed. Such charges caused widespread controversy as the nature of them serve to be extremely vague in their nature. Law No. 175 in Egypt for the “Anti-Cyber And Information Technology Crimes” as well as the protection of moral values were used to stipulate the cases at hand. They were sentenced to two years in prison as well as a fine of 300,000 L.E. These arrests further fueled the existing conflict regarding patriarchal authority, human rights violations, and hypocritical standards that remain unresolved. The defense team of the two girls argued that the charges set forth against them were based on merely “assumptions and delusions.” The argument further noted that their videos on social media were progressive and if deemed immoral to Egyptian family values, then all media and television programs would also amount to the same violations, which would supplement a complete disregard to civil liberties according to their judicial logic. The two girls are but a fraction of dozens of other arrests within the past year towards mainly low-income household female members. 

These waves of arrests across Egypt have been compared to a witch hunt and have received enormous backlash from human rights defenders as well as women’s rights groups. These charges of debauchery and violating family principles would further disregard Egypt’s history, progressiveness, and overall character. Amongst the charges were also accusations that the two TikTok girls were involved in human trafficking and running social media accounts with the sole aim of recruiting other young Egyptian girls to post certain criteria of material that are deemed to be inappropriate and not in alignment with the Egyptian moral system. A system that has no specific criteria as to what it entails, but rather open to a wide imagination of interpretation. Both accusations were fervently denied by the two girls. 

These arrests come in a time unique to the women within Egyptian society, as their #MeToo movement has intensely amplified since the outing and arrests of several upper-class Egyptian men due to several accusations and evidence of sexual assault, blackmail, and rape. Women have taken to Instagram to expose sexual predators within the community who have gotten away with their crimes for several years. The Egyptian constitution does make clear in their cybercrime law that the publication of personal photos or information without the person’s consent can result in a penalization with at least 6 months in prison as well as a fine. Article 309 states that blackmail and sexual coercion that would result in certain actions, which include sexual acts, can result in a prison sentence of no more than five years. However, the definition of rape required urgent reform, both within and out of marriage. Rape is quite difficult to prove under Egyptian law, as it requires the victims to come forth immediately to undergo physical examinations or within a span of several days. A law that is deemed inhumane as it disregards the traumatic process the victims go through as well as the threats of blackmail that they receive. Marital rape in Egypt also required a deep reform as by Egyptian law the husband is granted consent automatically merely just by marriage, leading to the silence of numerous women who have undergone and still undergo these repeated violations of their rights.

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