An Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced a former student to three years in prison for sexually harassing two young women, in a case that sparked outrage on social media under the #MeToo hashtag.
The economic court, which tries cyber crimes, sentenced Ahmed Bassem Zaki “to three years in prison, finding him guilty of sexually harassing two girls over the phone, sending sexual photos to one of them and repeatedly contacting the other without her consent”, a judicial source told AFP.
Zaki, who is in his 20s, can appeal the verdict, the source added.
Claims against Zaki emerged online in July in the form of testimonies — many from classmates — published by the Instagram account “Assault Police”, including an alleged rape and dozens of instances of assault against of girls and women, some involving blackmail.
Some alleged incidents involved girls as young as 14.
Zaki, a former student of some of Egypt’s most elite schools and the American University in Cairo, was arrested on July 4 and confessed to assaulting and blackmailing six complainants, one of whom was a minor.
He will be tried by a criminal court on January 9 on charges of sexually assaulting three underage girls and attempting to blackmail them.
The case kickstarted a #MeToo campaign in Egypt, where women complain of rampant sexual harassment, a criminal offence since 2014.
United Nations surveys say most women in the conservative country have been subject to harassment ranging from catcalling, pinching, groping or worse.
Women are often reluctant to speak out fearing public shame and being blamed for dressing or acting “provocatively”.
Egypt’s parliament in August approved amendments to the criminal code granting victims of sexual assault the right to anonymity.
The recent #MeToo momentum laid bare shocking cases including a 2014 alleged gang rape of a woman at a luxury hotel in Cairo.