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The New Arab Staff

Egypt bill grants anonymity to victims in sexual assault cases

In a recent high-profile case, victims filed their cases after the suspect was arrested. [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 July, 2020

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Egyptians filing sexual assault cases will have the option to remain anonymous to the public, while the credentials of victims will only be revealed to the court and defendants.
A bill approved by Egypt's cabinet will grant anonymity to victims of sexual abuse after an alleged rapist was arrested in a case where dozens of allegations were posted online anonymously.

The bill was passed shortly after the arrest of the suspect, Ahmed Bassam Zaki, on Friday.

The 22-year-old Egyptian student is accused of rape by 50 different women in a high-profile case that stirred debates on social media.

Both women and men used a hashtag that named the alleged rapist and anonymously detailed harrowing accounts of sexual and physical violence, creating an anonymous equivalent of the #MeToo movement, according to activists.

While sexual harassment and assault are common in Egypt, victims face many obstacles barring them from speaking out, including pressure from family members or fears of victim-blaming. 

Under the proposals, the victims' identities could only be revealed to a court, or upon request, to defendants. 

In the case of Zaki, the victims reportedly filed their cases after the arrest.

According to Egyptian media, Zaki was arrested before any of the victims had filed a case with the Public Prosecution, based on a report from the National Council of Women (NCW) which used social media claims. 

Read also: 'Educate, partner up!' Could Egypt's growing sexual harassment problem usher in a digital #MeToo?

Zaki was charged with "indecent" assault against at least three women, including one who was a minor at the time. He also faces charges of attempting to have sex with two girls "without their consent".

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