Egyptian TikTok influencer to attraction 10-year conviction

The Egyptian TikTok influencer Haneen Hossam wants to appeal this week against a ten-year conviction for human trafficking in a Cairo court, her lawyer said on Monday.

It comes a day after the court found Hossam, 21, and Mawada El Adham, 23, guilty of human trafficking, sentenced them to prison terms and sentenced them to Egyptian pounds 200,000 (US $ 13,000) each. Hossam was sentenced to ten years in prison while El Adham was sentenced to six years in prison.

“We hope that she will get a reduced prison sentence or an acquittal,” said lawyer Hani Sameh of the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The couple, along with three others, were arrested last year on charges of violating the moral values ​​of Egyptian families, sparking a heated debate in Egypt over the country’s laws regarding women and their online behavior.

The women were productive posting videos on sharing sites like TikTok and Likee, often wearing trendy clothes while dancing and talking to popular songs.

Hossam has 900,000 followers on TikTok and El Adham has 1 million Instagram followers. The other three were men convicted of aiding and abetting the couple and sentenced to six years in prison.

An appeals court in January overturned her “incitement to debauchery” conviction but introduced new human trafficking charges against Hossam and El Adham.

Prosecutors brought the human trafficking charges, for which they were convicted earlier this week, for the girls’ online appeals to other young women to post similar content during the months of lockdown in which some Egyptians lost their jobs and sources of income , To earn money.

They argued that the girls took advantage of the poverty of their recruits and persuaded them to post content that was incompatible with the “moral sensibilities” of Egypt.

This judgment is downright cruel, these young girls are not criminals and they have done nothing wrong

Nehad Abul Qomsan

Prosecutors said their investigation conclusively demonstrated that the girls received payments from TikTok and the Singaporean Likee to encourage other “pretty girls” in Egypt to produce videos of themselves for the sexual gratification of their viewers, which in turn increases the social Networks would increase. Visibility.

The girls insisted that they have been innocent since their arrest in April and May 2020, claiming that they had financial success simply by creating videos online and wanted to share the idea with other girls who might need the money.

The arrests were widely denounced by activists, and some of the country’s best-known women’s rights agencies campaigned for the girls to be released.

As of Tuesday, 255,000 people had signed an online petition calling for the women to be released.

“This verdict is downright cruel, these young girls are not criminals and they haven’t done anything wrong,” Nehad Abul Qomsan, chairman of the National Women’s Council and one of the country’s leading feminist activists, told The National.

The arrest of the girls is based on a vague part of Egypt’s cyber and information technology crime law, which prohibits content that “violates Egyptian family values”.

“There are no clear guidelines as to exactly what content violates the values ​​of the Egyptian family. It will be decided on a case-by-case basis, which is not only unfair but also very worrying for the future of women in Egypt, ”she said.

Ms. Abul Qomsan said the human trafficking indictment shows a marked discrepancy in the severity of the penalties given to men for committing similar offenses.

“In Egypt, much more harmful calls for action are posted on social media every day. Why do these girls’ posts deserve a decade in prison when there are men of religion every day who sanction marital rape, beating of women and FGM? “

However, some supported the convictions, saying the girls’ actions were immoral.

“Some of the posts I see on TikTok and Instagram have always made me very concerned,” said Randa Mansy, a 55-year-old mother of three who lives in Alexandria. “With no parents looking after these children, there has to be some kind of regulation of what content they can post online and who can see it.”

She said she was worried who was watching the videos.

“If my daughter posts a video of herself dancing and gets 1 million views, I’ll be wondering how many of those views are perverted old men who now have access to their private lives,” she said.

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