80,000 sign petition to free Egypt’s TikTok women

More than 80,000 people have signed a petition to put pressure on the Egyptian government to free what have become known as the TikTok women.

Since April nine social media influencers have been arrested and charged with an array of offenses including immorality, debauchery and violating family values after they sung and danced on social media.

One influencer, Manar Samy, was even accused of “stirring up instincts” before being released on $1,253 bail last month.

Samy has some 200,000 followers on Facebook and posted a video of herself fully clothed dancing on a beach with her dog.

One of the women is Menna Abdelaziz who posted about being raped online and appealed for help from the government for justice against her attackers.

Menna was then arrested and interrogated for allegedly violating Egypt’s family values.

So far, three of the TikTok women have been sentenced to between two and three years in prison, according to the Egyptian women who started the petition, which aims to get 150,000 signatures: “We are a group of Egyptian women calling on state authorities to stop this crackdown on women on social media. We are also calling for the National Council of Women to provide legal support for all the nine who have been arrested. International support can make a real difference.”

READ: Egypt prisoner dies under mysterious circumstances

Social media users are posting a photo of the women every day to raise awareness of their plight and encourage people to sign the petition.

One user wrote: “This is part of Egypt’s war against young women’s safety and their right to express themselves.”

The issue of their arrest has become even more prominent amidst a surge in social media activity highlighting the issue of sexual assault and how it is dealt with by authorities.

Experts say Egypt’s legal system protects abusers and punishes women when they speak out but even the regime has found it hard to ignore the rising tide of online complaints.

In July student Ahmed Bassam Zaki was arrested after women complained about being sexually assaulted by him to the Instagram account Assault Police. He was eventually charged with the attempted rape of three women, one who was under the age of 18.

The same site highlighted a case of six men who several women accused of drugging and gang raping a woman in the Fairmont Nile City Hotel in 2014.

According to social media posts the men signed their initials on her body and filmed the abuse, later using the footage to blackmail the victim.

Assault Police was later shut down after the administrators of the site reported receiving death threats.

READ: Egypt releases social media influencer jailed for ‘immoral videos’