Five Egyptian Women Jailed For 'Indecent' TikTok Videos And Fined £14,700
According to a statement from the public prosecutor, Haneen Hossam, 20, Mawada Eladhm, 22, and three other unnamed women were sentenced to two years in prison for 'violating the values and principles of the Egyptian family', inciting debauchery and promoting human trafficking.
The women were also fined 300,000 Egyptian pounds (£14,700) each.
Hossam and Eladmn were well known on TikTok, having risen to fame on the social media platform for their videos set to Egyptian pop tracks, which had earnt them millions of followers.
In the clips, they can be seen joking around in skits, posing on cars and dancing around in the kitchen - behaviour that the prosecutor deemed 'disgraceful and insulting'.
Hossam, a student at Cairo University who also has around one million fans on TikTok, was charged over encouraging other young women to meet men through a video app called Likee, where they could build connections with them for a fee.
Authorities had claimed this was a promotion for women to sell sex online.
Hossam was originally arrested in April and released on bail in June, but was arrested again after the prosecution discovered new evidence.
Eladhm, who is also a TikTok and Instagram star, was accused of publishing indecent content on social media.
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Her legal team confirmed the sentencing, adding that she had been 'crying in court'.
Samar Shabana, the lawyer's assistant, said: "Two years and 300,000 Egyptian pounds - this is very tough to hear."
The three other unnamed women had also been charged with assisting Hossam and Eladhm manage their popular social media profiles.
Their lawyers have said the women will be appealing against the verdicts.
Human rights campaigners say the news is the latest example of the conservative country cracking down on self expression, with a string of arrests for 'moral issues' taking place in recent years.
Nehad Abu El Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, said she did not agree with the prosecutor's phrase 'violating family values and principles'.
However, she views human trafficking and exploiting young women for money as a 'horrible crime'.
She added: "We have to differentiate between freedom of expression and using minors to generate money. In this way, it is called human trafficking and prostitution which are banned by the Egyptian law."
Hussein Baoumi, Egypt researcher for Amnesty International, also told Vice that Egypt's conservative authorities were unnerved by the large followings amassed by the young women, and were using broadly defined morality codes to clamp down on them.
"Authorities are now using the 'morality discourse' to attack influencers on social media platforms, particularly targeting women," he said.
"The women are being prosecuted on spurious and vague charges of violating family values, simply for posting videos of themselves dancing or singing."
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@mawada_eladhm