Egypt’s #Me Too movement has been gripped by a climate of fear. There have been arrests of the witness in a high-profile rap case and this has threatened to derail the efforts and curb male sexual violence in the Arab country.
A group of nine men who belonged to wealthy families are under suspicion for gang-raping a young woman after drugging her in the luxury Fairmont hotel in Cairo and video of the assault has been circulated.
Allegedly, the incident took place in the year 2014 but the allegations came to light and emerged online in July as a complaint has been filed in early August.
Five of the suspects have already been arrested and three of them are from Lebanon and they have been handed over to the authorities in Egypt this week.
The other four of them had fled to the US and the UK according to the woman’s activist and they have requested anonymity and are connected to the case.
But in the stream of events, there has been a sudden U-turn.
Another four witnesses have been arrested at the end of last month along with two acquaintances who have no direct link with the case. This has been added by the Human rights Watch (HRW).
The rights monitor based out of the USA said that all six have been accused of violating the laws of debauchery and morality.
Several of them have been pressured and their accounts have been altered. This has been said by the activist cited by HRW.
An academic at the Cairo University, Hoda al-Sadda, expressed their concerns at the recent developments.
Sadda also added that there is tangible evidence and this is a clear cut case as it has turned into a case where the witnesses are accused and the culprits are a victim as this is very frightening.
Some of the witnesses who have been detained are also the target of smear campaigns as on the internet, compromising images are posted.
One of the anonymous activists has told the media outlets that some of them have been forced to go through anal examinations and virginity tests. But there is no scientific validity to prove the charges on virginity and same-sex conduct.
A senior woman’s rights researcher from the HRW Rothna Begum has voiced her alarm. She also added that the smear campaign and case against the witness and the rape survivor has sent a chilling message to the witness and survivors of sexual violence and said that they can eve go to the prison if sexual violence is reported.
This is not the first occasion when those who have denounced violence against women have found themselves targeted in Egypt.
Another case was reported earlier this year when Menna Abdel-Aziz, a teenager, got her face battered and bruised and the video has been posted on social media by a fan in which she has been gang-raped.