Like never before

These “revolutions” keep happening because…the problem never goes away.

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.

Except we’ve heard that before.

It began in July when claims were shared online against student Ahmed Bassam Zaki. Nadeen Ashraf, a 22-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.

Within days he was arrested and is on trial charged with “sexually assaulting three girls under the age of 18 and threatening them, along with blackmailing a fourth girl”. He denies the charges.

Nadeen was overwhelmed with the reaction and speed of progress. She said “within weeks there was a new law that was introduced in parliament to protect women’s identities when they’re in crimes of a sexual nature”.

The sexual assault of one particular activist, Sabah Khodir, was so harrowing that it drove her to leave the country and move to the US last year.

Still, Sabah has been instrumental in helping women coming forward, putting them in touch with lawyers and therapists, and is now seeing her efforts rewarded.

Earlier this year the highest religious authority in the land, Al-Azhar Mosque, released a statement in support of women, declaring that a woman’s clothing is never a justification for assault.

Weird that anyone has to be told that.

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