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Student’s Instagram Account Fights Sex Crimes in Egypt

Instagram activist, Nadeen Ashraf has exposed two major sexual assaults in two months.

Ahmed Bassam Zaki, a former student at the American University in Cairo was arrested in July after several women used Ashraf’s Assault Police account on Instagram to make allegations against him. Egypt’s public prosecutor on Wednesday referred Zaki to the criminal court on charges of sexually assaulting three girls under the age of 18, and of using threats to continue abusing them. All Africa reports that while Zaki has not addressed the accusations publicly, he has denied some of them during questioning.

Ashraf, who is also a student at AUC, decided to set up Assault Police after she heard allegations from friends at the university about Zaki, who comes from a wealthy background, having raped and blackmailed women. She said, “I saw a post written by a woman I know on her personal account in which she narrated a sexual harassment incident by (Zaki) and warned other girls against him.” Ashraf said the girl was pressured, in online comments, to delete the post.

The second sexual assault case that Ashraf focused on, saw claims about an alleged gang rape at Cairo’s Fairmont Hotel in 2014 circulated online in July. Seven suspects have fled Egypt since. According to All Africa, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces have arrested three of the men. They are to be deported to Egypt. Two other suspects in the case were also arrested in Egypt last week.

The 22-year-old student has prompted Egypt to bring in a law to protect the identities of the victims. She also wants to turn her Instagram account into an advocacy group that can win justice for sexual assault survivors. Ashraf said, “Society always blames the victim, not the one who does the harassment. And even if they do not blame her, they pressure her to keep silent about it.”

Meanwhile, a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll in 2017 found Cairo to be the most dangerous city in the world, for women. A United Nations’ survey in 2013 found that 99% of women had experienced harassment in Egypt.

Umm Muhammed Umar


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