Egyptian women social media influencers Hanin Hossam and Mawada el-Adham were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms by Cairo’s Criminal Court on June 20, 2021 for inciting “indecent” content, human trafficking and other offences. Amnesty International believes that the young women are being punished for the way they dance, talk, dress and attempt to “influence” the public on social media and calls for their immediate release.
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President Abdelfattah al-Sisi
Office of the President
Al Ittihadia Palace – Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax +202 2391 1441
Email: [email protected]
Social media influencers 22-year-old Hanin Hossam
and 20-year-old Mawada el-Adham
were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms and fines by Cairo’s Criminal Court on June 20, 2021 for 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 human trafficking charge relates to videos the women had posted online. In the Instagram video that led to her conviction, Hanin Hossam, who has over one million followers on TikTok, encouraged women over the age of 18 to post videos of themselves on the application ‘Likee’ that is monetized based on the number of viewers. Mawada el-Adham, who has over three million followers on TikTok, was convicted based on TikTok videos showing her dancing with a six-year old girl and jokingly asking her if she was dating. In court, the girl’s parents raised the issue of their consent to post the videos online. Amnesty International reviewed the videos 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.
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 and morals. To date, the women’s lawyers have not received a written reasoned judgment. Hanin Hossam, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in her absence, was rearrested on June 22, 2021 and is now awaiting retrial. Mawada el-Adham has appealed her six-year prison sentence. They are both being held in al-Qanater Prison for women.
I urge you to quash Hanin Hossam and Mawada el-Adham’s 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.