Sexual violence in Arab world: Egypt case shows struggle for women’s rights
Activists are trying to challenge predatory behaviour 10 years after uprisings raised hopes of change
Azza Soliman was on holiday in August at Siwa oasis in Egypt’s Western Desert when she heard that several witnesses in a high-profile gang rape case had been arrested. “I almost had a stroke,” says the feminist and lawyer, who briefly represented the victim. “I knew something very strange was happening when I heard witnesses were being taken in.”
The horrific details of the Fairmont case, named after the luxurious Cairo hotel where the rape is said to have taken place, had galvanised public attention. A chilling account of the attack was revealed in July by internet activists on an Instagram account named Assault Police that had recently outed an alleged sexual molester from an elite background, leading to his arrest. The government had also passed a data law to protect the privacy of victims.
Egypt was experiencing its #MeToo moment: there was a sense that a new era was starting in which the state would go after sexual predators with unprecedented vigour, whatever their social status...