Story By: James King, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
An online predator who blackmailed nearly 100 young girls into having sex with him has been jailed in a landmark ruling in Egypt hailed by feminists as “another step forwards”.
Student Ahmed Bassam Zaki, 21, was sentenced to three years hard labour for having sex with three girls aged under 18 after persuading them to share nude pictures before blackmailing them into sex.
However, the case has far wider implications as Egypt was generally considered a country where women were often blamed when they were the victims of sex attacks until recently.
According to local media, the suspect comes from a respected family and studies at some of the country’s top educational establishments.
When he was arrested in July an Instagram page set up as part of the investigation identified 93 potential victims, some as young as 13, and three became the basis of the case against him.
The victims were fellow students at the American University in Cairo.
A month later, Egypt’s cabinet approved a bill from the justice ministry confirming that the identity of sex attack victims would be kept secret. They have also strengthened sentences and fines for those convicted of sex attacks.
According to reports, women’s rights campaigners were even impressed at how promptly the case moved from investigation to prosecution after it helped to spark debate and fuel the country’s fledgling Me Too Movement.
It is also open the floodgates for other complaints with the state-funded National Council for Women who said they have since received over 400 reports of violence and assault suffered by women.
The conviction also shows how much the country has moved forwards since a series of high-profile sex attacks on women in Tahrir Square in 2011 that tarnished the Arab Spring protests, and other reported cases where victims were gang raped.
Commenting on the legal case against the student, Egyptian feminist Mozn Hassan called it “another step” for a national movement that has been “building for years”.
She added: “I’m so proud of it.”
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