Unjust and outdated “morality crimes,” such as adultery, “indecent” conduct (such as running away from home or dancing in online videos), or sex outside of marriage are used to punish and silence women and girls and control their behavior in a way not experienced by men and boys. These so-called “crimes” are also levelled against women’s rights activists for daring to speak up. In Iran, protesters led by women and girls, have shown incredible bravery in their resolve to secure basic human rights only to be met be violence and oppression. In Egypt, young women have been prosecuted for dancing on social media.
TrialWatch monitored the trial of two women in Egypt who were charged with violating “family principles and values” for photos and videos that they posted of themselves on social media platforms—many of which simply consisted of them singing or dancing. The court’s judgment in the case offered a window into how Egypt’s vague “family values” law can be instrumentalized against women. The court spoke of the risk that women might seek to “attract young men who visit that platform” and used freighted terms, such as an assertion that one defendant had “seduc[ed] [other women] to follow her.”
[The defendant] is violating the family principles and values of Egyptian society, using the Internet to broadcast, send and address individuals in a manner that destroys family bonds.Judgment, Trial of Haneen Hossam and Mawada Al-Adham in Egypt
Hajar Raissouni, a journalist in Morocco who wrote for one of Morocco’s few remaining newspapers critical of the government, was convicted of sex outside of marriage and abortion. She stated that the police seemed more interested in her journalistic work than the charges at issue when they interrogated her, but unfair laws gave them an opportunity to persecute. Further, the authorities forced her to submit to a painful, non-consensual medical examination and justified arresting her based on a supposed tip from an unidentified person and how she looked when she came out of a gynecologist’s office.
Authorities forced Ms. Raissouni to undergo a nonconsensual medical examination, in violation of her right to be free from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.TrialWatch Fairness Report
Yulia Tsvetkova has twice been convicted of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors”– once for materials in LGBTQ-friendly online communities she administered and the second time for posting a drawing showing a same-sex couple with children. She is currently facing pornography charges for posting artistic images of female genitalia in what she has said is an effort to combat the objectification of women’s bodies. Russia closed her trial to the public.
The sweeping closure of the trial violates Tsvetkova’s right to publicity and transparency, particularly given that she is facing six years in prison. TrialWatch Fairness ReportTrialWatch Fairness Report
In 2018, Meesha Shafi, a popular singer, stated that she had been subjected to “sexual harassment of a physical nature at the hands of a colleague from my industry.” Eight other women followed: alleging harassment by the same celebrity. Ms. Shafi’s claim of sexual harassment was dismissed by an Ombudsperson on the ground that it did not involve “an employer-employee relationship,” a decision she has appealed to the Supreme Court. At the same time, the man in question responded to Ms. Shafi’s claim by lodging a complaint with Federal Information Agency (FIA), alleging that Ms. Shafi and the eight others had defamed him. The Federal Information Agency has now charged Ms. Shafi and the eight other women with transmitting false information electronically that ‘harms the reputation or privacy’ of a person, for which they face a potential penalty of up to three years in prison.