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Egyptian Sexual Harassment Victim Who Was Publicly Shamed by Riham Said Disfigured in Revenge Attack

Somaya Ebeid made headlines in October 2015 when she stood up to her harasser and refused to go silent. And now she's claiming he went after her with a blade.

Two years ago, Somaya Ebeid was harassed by a man in a popular Cairo mall, and went on to report the incident and appeared on Egyptian TV host Reham El Saeed’s show to tell her painful story, only to be shamed publicly after the TV host illegally obtained and aired intimate pictures of the victim. Ebeid has just had to relive this ordeal again.  

On Sunday, the man who had harassed Ebeid ran into her in the Korba neighbourhood of Cairo and tried to talk to her as she walked out of a pharmacy. When she refused to acknowledge him, he attacked her with a 20-centimetre-blade, striking her in the face and leaving a deep wound, which required around 50 stitches, the victim claims in a series of posts on her Facebook profile accompanied by graphic images.

In the first harassment incident two years earlier, the man was arrested but shortly released on a 100 EGP bail (less than $6). Ebeid posted on her Facebook saying that her attacker was being investigated by prosecutors, but had two "big" attorneys.

Incidents of sexual harassment in Egypt are common, as shown in a 2013 United Nations report that found 99% of Egyptian women have experienced harassment in some form, with the world body saying that “virtually all” women in this country face the epidemic.

A culture of victim-blaming is often at fault, with people regularly responding to such news by asking what was she wearing? in reference to the victim’s choice of clothing, suggesting that she has provoked the attack. In a way, the media's reaction to Ebeid's incident in 2015 magnifies the extent of this problem, as she was nicknamed the "mall girl", with a hashtag even arising from the moniker, فتاة_المول#.

 

Coupled with that harsh reality of an unforgiving population, legal proceedings do little more to help. With minimal sentences applied and often just small fines levelled against sexual harassers, the repulsive act continues to plague society, as the atmosphere allows perpetrators to target their victims with near impunity.

Despite still being in recovery, Ebeid has already shown that she does not intend to relent. Shortly after first announcing the vicious attack, which will leave her face permanently and severely scarred, she announced that she is looking for a lawyer and asked for recommendations. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: Dream TV