Defense abandons Egypt harassment victim

Decided to appeal against her client


An Egyptian harassment victim, who made history as being the first ever to bring the man who harassed her to court and to actually win a verdict, was abandoned by her own lawyer over "carrying an Israeli passport".

Three days after the culprit was sentenced to 3 years in jail for groping film director Noha Roshdi in the street, defense attorney Naglaa al-Imam lashed out at her client after finding out that Roshdi carries an Israeli passport, Egyptian independent daily al-Masry al-Youm reported Thursday.

Explaining reasons for turning against her client and switching over to represent the harasser in the appeal, Imam said she "investigated about Roshdi and found out that she was born in Jafa, north of Tel Aviv, and that her father still lives there".

Imam further told the paper that during a TV interview on MBC, Roshdi said "Israel was a respectable country", when asked whether sexual harassment also takes place in Israel.

Historic verdict

Roshdy, 27, was harassed by truck driver Sherif Gibril in June in the Cairo district of Heliopolis. According to the verdict, while walking with a friend of hers, Gibril approached her and grabbed her breasts till she fell to the ground.

Roshdy started screaming, but no one came to her rescue. The harasser was about to drive away when a car coming in the opposite direction forced him to stop. With the help of one of the passersby Roshdi managed to take him to the police station.

Roshdy expressed her disappointment at the attitude of people in the street. She said no one interfered to help her while she was fighting with the assailant for almost 2 hours. Pedestrians only stopped to watch, Roshdi told the media.

In an unprecedented step, Roshdi insisted on taking him to court, thus bringing about the first harassment ruling in the history of Egyptian judiciary.

In October 21, Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Gibril to 3 years in jail with hard labor and a fine of 5,001 Egyptian pounds.

The trial turned into a demonstration by women and human rights activists who condemned the humiliation Egyptian women are subjected to in the street and their fear of disgrace.

Roshdi surprised everyone by demanding that the trail be public and insisting it is a case that concerns all the people. However, after an argument between the lawyers of the defendant and the plaintiff, the court decided to hold the trial behind closed doors.

The verdict was labeled "historic" and is expected to encourage many girls who feel ashamed of reporting harassment to take their assailants to court and face the remarkably increasing phenomenon in Egyptian streets.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)