#Trending: Five Egyptian Women Who Are Social Media Influencers Were Jailed For Uploading “Indecent” Content On TikTok. Why Are The Men So Threatened?
I am not saying that women are perfect. But, is it really fair that we have been blamed for every single thing? I mean, even the fact that violence against women is increasing is somehow our fault. Why are only women responsible for upholding the morals of society while the men are out doing unspeakable things? They are always let off while the women are shamed and how.
For instance, recently, an Egyptian court has sentenced five female social media influencers to two years in jail each on charges of violating public morals. They were charged on the basis that they posted “indecent videos” on TikTok.
Now, if the “accused” women- Haneen Hossam, Mowada al-Adham and three others (whose names are not mentioned), had actually posted inappropriate content, it would be viable to hold them accountable. But these women have been arrested for posting silly videos of themselves singing and dancing. The right-wingers of Egypt say they are harming family values. Is it only me or does that sound super vague to you as well?
The ruling against these five women included a two year jail time a 30,000 Egyptian Pound fine (Rs 1,40,352) each. This sentence seems rather harsh. They were charged for, “violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family, promoting human trafficking and inciting debauchery.”
Hanseen is a 20-year-old student studying at Cairo University with 1.3 million followers on her account. According to reports, she was arrested in April for uploading a video in which she said that women could work with her and earn money by broadcasting on Singapore-based video sharing platform, Likee.
The public prosecutor described the video as “indecent” and made it out to sound like she was promoting online prostitution and human trafficking. Some reports say she was released on bail in June but was rearrested when some new evidence resurfaced.
The second girl, Mowda is a 22-year-old TikTok and Instagram influencer with almost 2 million followers. She was arrested in May for posting “indecent” photos and videos on social media platforms. A few of the videos she posted were satirical.
Her lawyer’s assistant Samar Shabana told the Associated Press, “They just want followers. They are not part of any prostitution network, and did not know this is how their message would be perceived by prosecutors.”
The sentencing, which took place on Monday, was the first since nine women who were popular on TikTok have been arrested in April. A few reports say that there will be a third sentencing soon as well.
I am sure you are wondering why Egypt is arresting all these women social media influencers are being targetted and thrown in jail. It’s because the Egyptian parliament has always been against TikTok. They believe that it promoted immoral content. According to the NY Times, these kinds of prosecutions only occur when the lawyers have filed criminal cases against these women and accused them of “inciting debauchery” and “spreading fake news”.
So, I guess it’s a crime in Egypt to make videos of yourself singing and dancing? This is seriously unbelievable.
Anyway, the public prosecutors are backed by a 2018 cybercrimes law that allows for prison sentences and fines for “digital content deemed to violate public morals.” Under these laws, the Egyptian government has the authority to monitor your social media, censor the internet, and even conduct surveillance of digital communication. They can even monitor personal social media accounts that have over 5,000 followers.
Basically, Egyptians (especially the women) can’t express anything freely on social media without getting into serious trouble. This is like living in a police state.
Also Read: An Egyptian Belly Dancer Has Been Jailed For Three Years For Her Social Media Content. This Is Systematic Gender Oppression
A few months ago, under the same harsh laws, an Egyptian belly dancer, Sama El-Masry, was recently sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting debauchery” on TikTok. She was fined 30,000 Egyptian Pounds as well. They believed that the content she posted was vulgar and overtly sexual.
Another girl, 17-year-old Menna Abdel-Aziz was arrested for promoting debauchery after she posted a video with a bruised face. In the video, she said she was raped. But instead of helping her, the authorities arrested her for indecent content and threw her in jail.
After these five women were arrested, women’s rights lawyer Intissar al-Saeed said, “The verdict is shocking, though it was expected. We will see what happens on appeal.” She further added, “It is still a dangerous indicator … Regardless of the divergent views on the content presented by the girls on TikTok, it still is not a reason for imprisonment.”
Several other women’s rights activists took to social media to condemn this harsh sentencing. A hashtag in Arabic that translates to “with the permission of the Egyptian family” trending online as part of a social media campaign that demanded the release of the women influencers.
“The charges of spreading debauchery or violating family values are very loose … and its definition is broad,” said Saeed.
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) July 27, 2020
A petition was also launched on Change.org demanding the release of the influencers with more than 1500 signatures.
“We are a group of women calling on state authorities to stop targeting women on TikTok. We call on the National Council for Women to provide legal support for Haneen Hossam, Mawada El-Adham, Menna AbdelAziz, Sherry Hanem, Nora Hesham, Manar Samy, Reenad Emad, Hadeer Hady, and Bassant Mohamed,” the petition said.
The only thing that all this tells me is that the authorities in Egypt are so threatened by these harmless women that instead of working on gender issues, they are resorting to arresting them.
Clearly, it’s not social media, in general, they are afraid of because the men who are popular on TikTok have been left alone. Only the women are being targeted. They are being blamed for being indecent and inciting debauchery just because they dropped a few harmless videos. Their words are being twisted to fit the norms of whatever is not considered good family values and they are being unlawfully charged because of the vague and loose cyber laws in the country.
As the world moves towards a more liberal mindset, there are still countries, like Egypt, where women are expected to live and behave a certain way. This sentencing is proof that in Egypt, gender oppression is extremely prevalent.