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TV anchor Reham Saeed under fire for blaming, airing private pictures of sexual harassment victim

The victim of an assault at a Cairo mall says that crew members at Saeed's TV show stole private images with the intent of defaming her

Mariam Mecky , Thursday 29 Oct 2015
TV anchor Reham Saeed
Snapshot from Al-Nahar TV Channel shows anchor Reham Saeed (Photo: Al-Nahar TV Channel)
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Egyptian TV presenter Reham Saeed has been receiving criticism on social media since yesterday for her coverage of a harassment incident on her show Sabaya El Kheir, where she showed private images and seemed to blame a woman for being allegedly harassed and physically assaulted in a Cairo mall.

A campaign under the title "Trial and Suspension of Reham Saeed" was launched online calling for the boycott and prosecution of Saeed and demanding the suspension of her show, which is aired on Al-Nahar TV.

Some 132,000 Facebook users have expressed support for the campaign since its launch yesterday, with around 70,000 users voicing support within the first couple of hours. The campaign accuses the TV show of using "unprofessional" and "unethical" means of increasing its viewership.

During this episode, which was aired on 27 October, Saeed was interviewing a student, Somaya Tarek, who says she was slapped by a man at a Cairo mall after he had sexually harassed her.

The incident captured on the mall's security cameras shows a man following Tarek before they engage in an argument which ends with him slapping her.

Saeed attempted to justify the assault on her TV show by arguing that Tarek dresses and behaves "indecently" and showed private pictures of Tarek to back her argument.  

Tarek said Wednesday night on Dream TV that Saeed's crew took these photos from her own personal phone without her knowledge. The crew denied the claim, saying that the show's director received the pictures anonymously through a social media application.

In response to the criticism, Saeed attempted to defend her position by citing comments by an Al-Azhar Scholar who justified the use of Tarek's private pictures by saying this was a "matter of public opinion."

Meanwhile, rights lawyer and head of the Haqanya Centre for Advocacy and Law Mohamed Abdel-Aziz said that 15 rights lawyers have announced their willingness to offer Tarek legal support against both her attacker and Saeed. They are still awaiting Tarek's response.

Tarek's attacker was released on bail Thursday pending an investigation, Al-Ahram Arabic newspaper's website reported.

The Shoft Taharoush (I saw harassment ) Initiative released a statement Thursday slamming Saeed for bluntly violating Article 12 of the Human Rights Declaration, which states that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference upon their privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor be subjected to attacks upon their honour or reputation.

The anti-harassment group, which works on monitoring and documenting sexual harassment against women, also called for legal action against Saeed, the suspension of her show and on the sponsors of the show to suspend their support.

An online petition was launched by Avaaz, a web platform for community petitions, calling on Alaa El-Kahky, Al-Nahar channel's owner, to stop airing the show and urging people to boycott sponsors unless they stop supporting the show. The petition has so far received around 2,200 signatures.

"This TV presenter in our opinion has been promoting hate towards Syrian refugees and sexually harassed Egyptian women," the petition statement said, referring to one of Saeed's earlier episodes which was viewed by many as denigrating Syrian refugees in Egypt.

In response, five sponsors so far, namely Aloe Vera, Evy Baby, Almarai Egypt, Beyti Juice and VItrac Egypt, announced suspending their sponsorship of the  Sabaya El-Kheir TV show.

Renowned Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef said on Twitter that he will mention in his tweets the names of companies that withdraw their sponsorship of Saeed's show.

 

The hashtag #DieReham and #MallGirl have been trending on Twitter locally since yesterday.

Saeed has often faced criticism for some controversial content in her show, which many people have said they find offensive. 

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