Egyptian women social media influencers Hanin Hossam and Mawada el-Adham have been arbitrarily detained since Cairo’s Criminal Court convicted them for inciting “indecent” content, human trafficking, and other bogus charges, in June 2021 and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms. Mawada el-Adham’s appeal against her ruling is pending. Hanin Hossam is currently being retried, as provided by Egyptian law for those convicted in their absence. They must be immediately released, as they are being punished solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.
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President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Office of the President
Al Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax +202 2391 1441
Email: [email protected]
Social media influencers 23-year-old Hanin Hossam
and 21-year-old Mawada el-Adham
are serving unjust lengthy prison sentences, following their conviction by Cairo’s Criminal Court in June 2021 of inciting young women to broadcast “indecent” content on social media to earn money, commercial exploitation, human trafficking, and other offences. Amnesty International believes that they are being punished for the way they dance, talk, dress and attempt to “influence” the public online, amid the authorities’ crackdown on women’s freedom of expression and attempts to police women’s conduct online. The organisation reviewed the videos that led to their convictions, as well as their verdicts, and found no credible evidence linking the two women to acts that would amount to trafficking in persons, as defined by the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, or other internationally recognizable criminal offences.
During the issuing of the verdict, the presiding judge openly expressed
bias and hostility against the women, accusing them of tarnishing the nation’s morals and warning against using social media tools to undermine Egypt’s values. Mawada el-Adham’s appeal against her six-year prison sentence is pending. Hanin Hossam, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in her absence, is now standing trial again in accordance with the Egyptian Code of Criminal Procedures, which gives those convicted in their absence the possibility to request a retrial. Amnesty International is concerned about Hanin Hossam’s mental health, as she repeatedly expressed her despair during her court hearings. On December 20, 2021
, she told the presiding judge: “I live in a swamp, in a swamp I swear, and I am dying 100 times every day because my future is lost”. Her next hearing is scheduled for March 22, 2022. They were held in al-Qanater prison for women at the time of writing.
I urge you to quash Hanin Hossam and Mawada el-Adham’s convictions and sentences and release them immediately as they are being punished for their conduct online in the name of “morality” and “decency”; protect their rights to privacy, freedom of expression, non-discrimination and bodily autonomy; and put an end to the wider crackdown on women social media influencers in Egypt.