For women and girls in Egypt, sexual assault has long been endemic - but victims are now fighting back like never before, writes Salma El-Wardany. It has become part of everyday life in a country where for women picking an outfit is less about style, and more about protection. Over the years, a culture of patriarchy, religion and conservatism has meant women often stay silent when sexual abuse happens because victim-blaming is all too common. Now though, women and girls are finally breaking decades of silence, taking to social media to share their stories of assault, empower one another and call for justice. It began in July when claims were shared online against student Ahmed Bassam Zaki. Nadeen Ashraf, a year-old fellow student, set up the Instagram account Assault Police to share these allegations and received an outpouring of messages from women claiming that Ahmed Bassam Zaki had blackmailed, assaulted, harassed and raped them.
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Victims of sexual abuse in Egypt are to get anonymity after a high-profile case that saw scores of women use social media to accuse a male student of multiple assaults. Under the proposals, victims' identities could only be revealed to a court and to defendants upon request. The current attention to the issue began with a rare social media campaign in which women revealed their experiences of alleged abuse. Last week an Instagram account called Assault Police was set up to publish allegations of rape, sexual harassment and blackmail by dozens of women against student Ahmed Bassam Zaki, who is reportedly from a wealthy family. Mr Zaki was subsequently arrested and on Monday Egypt's public prosecutor charged him with indecent assault against at least three women, including one who was a minor at the time.
Most women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment or violence. But her catcaller was surprised when the year-old philosophy student jumped into the taxi he was driving. Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.
By Mai Shams Eldin. To encourage victims to come forward, the government approved a bill to better protect their identity. Yet when the administrator of the Instagram page that attracted the first testimonies tried to expose a second high-profile case, death threats came and she suspended the account at the end of July out of fear, she said.