First Lady visits assault survivor, Egyptians’ reactions to shocking video vary
First Lady Intisar Amer - YOUM7

CAIRO: First Lady Intisar Amer visited Ikram, sexual assault survivor Friday, following visits a series of visits by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and several ministers and officials, MENA reported.

After Ikram complained to Sisi that her daughters are disturbed whenever they see the video of her assault and rescue on TV or online, Egypt’s embassy in Washington urged Youtube to remove videos of Ikram’s, where she can be seen naked and brutally bruised, reported a number of outlets.

“The video shocked everyone because it proved that [sexual] harassment, assault and rape exist for any woman anywhere in Egypt just because she is a woman. The video is conclusive evidence that no one who justifies, defends or ignores the reality of the matter can avoid,” Marwan Arafa, one of those who uploaded the video to Youtube, wrote in an article published by Yanair news website Tuesday.

“I face criticism, insults, threats, random accusations and smear campaigns against me and anyone who knows me… all because I uploaded a video that shows a small part of the truth as it is… I still refused to remove it,” Arafa said.

Arafa also said he kept the video online to compel state and independent bodies to resolve the issue of sexual harassment in Egypt, until he heard of Ikram’s complaint He removed the video and closed his Facebook account.

However, others have uploaded the video to Youtube again.

The video does not show Ikram’s face, but some have accused the anonymous filmer of witnessing a crime and not intervening to stop the abuse.

Mervat al-Talawy, head of the National Council for Women Rights, said she would sue Al Jazeera channel for using the incident to “tarnish the reputation of Egyptian women.”

Eba’a al-Tamami, member of Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment group, addressed “state-biased” media in a Facebook post, saying it should not distract people with subtopics, and should rather focus on rapists and their apologists.

“The video forced people to believe that this happens, despite previous countless videos and testimonies that have been reported for years,” Tamami said.

“The person who filmed and uploaded the video is not the biggest criminal in this story. This person forced the state to move, although so far with talk and some roses, after millions of women have suffered for years,” Tamami added.

Tamami said the group detected 19 gang rape/sexual assault cases in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2013, where they intervened in 15 incidents and one was raped with a sharp object, and 186 cases from June 29 to July 7, 2013, where they could intervene in 100 incidents and one was raped with a sharp object as well.

She added that other assaults took place in 2011 and 2012 in Tahrir Square.

Some Facebook and Youtube comments, however, lacked sympathy towards the woman.

“A girl went to dance and support Sisi in Tahrir, they stripped her completely and harassed her. It is impossible that I sympathize with her because she dances and supports killing in the blood of my brothers,” Amr Mohamed wrote on Facebook on June 8, accompanying his post the video.

While some groups in opposition to the interim government boycotted, many Egyptian women were filmed dancing outside polling stations during the January constitutional referendum and May presidential elections to express their joy over the votes.

Others said the assault is politically motivated and accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the incident and using it to “smear Sisi’s supporters.”

A lawyer filed a complaint against the group Thursday, accusing them of being behind the assault to “revenge on Egyptian women,” according to Youm7.

Nahed Aboul Qomsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women Rights, told Nahar TV Tuesday that the assault is reminiscent of similar assaults when former President Mohamed Morsi was in power.

A U.N. study released in 2013 found that 99.3 percent Egyptian women have been sexually harassed, regardless of their attire.

In his final days in office former President Adly Mansour adopted a law that recognizes sexual harassment and that a victim may be male. State institutions have vowed to counter the issue through the media, education and religious institutions.

However, human rights groups call for further amendments because only non-consensual, out of wedlock vaginal penetration with a penis is considered rape under Egyptian law. Any other form of coercive sex, including anal and oral rape and penetration with any object is considered “indecent assault,” which therefore leads to far less severe penalties.

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