Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) called on women to come forward officially after reports that a young man had committed multiple sexual assaults and rapes went viral on social media.
“A group of girls created an Instagram account a few days ago, collecting evidence against a young man that includes testimonies of numerous rape incidents committed by him, incidents of sexual harassment, and inappropriate text and voice messages that he sent to several girls,” read a statement by the state body on Thursday.
The council said it was carefully following the case and called for all concerned entities to investigate the incident and to take the necessary measures.
“The council also calls on all the girls to file official reports about the young man so that he gets the punishment he deserves per the law and becomes an example for whomever touches or harasses girls,” read the statement, the first comment by a state body in Egypt on the string of reports.
On Wednesday, posts began to surface on Twitter and Instagram from women who said they had been sexually harassed, assaulted, raped or blackmailed by the man, who was formerly a student at the country’s elite private American University in Cairo (AUC) and who is currently studying abroad in Spain.
Ahram Online is declining to name the man.
Soon an Instagram account called “@assaultpolice” was set up, calling on women to send their experiences, and in 24 hours the account received more than 150 messages, including some that contained screenshots of messages and recordings of apparent calls with the man.
The Instagram account also revealed that in 2018, a woman wrote in a Facebook group for AUC students that the man had stalked her and her friends, but the young man had claimed to suffer from psychological issues and announced that he would commit suicide if the girls did not back off.
“He left the University in 2018. AUC has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and is committed to upholding a safe environment for all members of the community,” said the AUC in a statement issued on Thursday.
In 2018, the young man moved to Barcelona, Spain where he enrolled in that city’s EU Business School.
The Instagram account has also received reports from women who are currently in Spain who said they had experienced unacceptable behaviour from him and as a result the Spanish institution had suspended him.
The Instagram account stated that it hopes to make him face legal consequences for his actions.
A petition has also been added on Change.org calling for justice for the alleged victims, and had attracted more than 20,000 signatures.
For two days in a row, a hashtag including the name of the suspect in Arabic has been trending on Twitter in Egypt.
The office of MP Mohamed Fouad has issued a statement calling on the prosecutor-general listen to the “voices of women” complaining online and “to be the voice of the voiceless.”
The MP also asked the National Council for Women to support all sexual assault survivors with all needed legal and psychological means.