Egypt: women’s rights activist Amal Fathy jailed for highlighting sexual harassment

Amal Fathy is one of Egypt’s most prominent women’s rights defenders © Private

Prominent activist sentenced to year in prison for Facebook video critical of authorities’ failure to protect women from sexual harassment

‘Criticising the government’s failure to address sexual harassment is not a crime’ – Philip Luther

Amnesty International has condemned the jailing this week of a leading Egyptian women’s rights activist, Amal Fathy.

In a decision announced yesterday, on Tuesday the Egyptian Court of Cassation confirmed a conviction against Amal Fathy, a women’s rights defender who criticised the Egyptian authorities’ failure to protect women from sexual harassment. Fathy has been sentenced to a year in prison.

Fathy was originally arrested in May 2018 after posting a video on Facebook in which she spoke about sexual harassment and criticised the Egyptian government for their inaction on the issue and for their wider crackdown on human rights. She was later sentenced to two years in prison, upheld on appeal. She was released on probation in December 2018.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, said:

“The court’s decision to confirm Amal Fathy’s conviction and sentence her to a one-year prison term yet again shows that the Egyptian authorities are keen on whitewashing rather than improving their appalling human rights record.

“Once again, hopes for justice for an Egyptian human rights defender have been crushed by the country’s shamelessly flawed and patriarchal judiciary. 

“Criticising the government’s failure to address sexual harassment is not a crime. No-one should face punishment – let alone imprisonment – for exercising their right to freedom of expression to call for safer environments for women.

“The Egyptian authorities must ensure that this cruel and unjust conviction is immediately quashed.

“In their national human rights strategy, the Egyptian authorities praise their efforts to protect women’s rights, but their actions today show they are determined to undermine them.”