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Egypt filmmaker fined 70,000 EGP after standing in solidarity with sex assault victims

Salma El Tarzi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates [Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for DIFF]
Salma El Tarzi in Dubai, United Arab Emirates [Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for DIFF]

Egyptian filmmaker and artist Salma El-Tarzi has been fined 50,000 Egyptian pounds and ordered to pay 20,000 Egyptian pounds in civil compensation after she stood in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and harassment.

Salma spoke out in support of six women who accused film director Islam El-Azazi of sexual assault, rape, and harassment and in return she was accused of defamation and writing posts violating privacy, and of intentional disturbance.

In total, the fine is the equivalent of around $2,845.

The ruling comes despite a Cairo court in April finding journalist and writer Rasha Azab not guilty of charges of insult, defamation and deliberately disturbing El-Azazai after she also came to the defence of these women.

A prominent defender of women's rights, Rasha tweeted in solidarity with the women and in response, El-Azazai filed a complaint against her, and the case was referred to court.

The Egyptian government has come under fire in recent years for prosecuting women including sexual abuse survivors, which discourages them from speaking out.

READ: Man dies in Egypt prison bringing total of 5 to die in custody since November

In contrast, authorities rarely investigate the allegations against the perpetrators, including in this case against Islam El-Azazai.

Earlier this week Human Rights Watch released the testimonies of female refugees in Egypt who had been raped and sexually assaulted yet had not been protected by authorities.

Of the women the human rights watchdog spoke to, three said the police refused to record the attack, three were too afraid to go to the police and one was sexually harassed by the policeman she spoke to.

The women suffered injuries in the aftermath of the attack yet have not been referred to healthcare services.

Last week the women's rights NGO Equality Now released a policy brief on how inadequate justice for women across the world, including in Egypt, has increased violence against them.

For example, in Egypt, women who are victims of domestic violence are not protected because domestic abuse and marital rape are not explicitly criminalised under Egyptian law.

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