The 22-Year-Old Force Behind Egypt’s Growing #MeToo Movement

Ms. Ashraf’s bold page offered a new way. “It was so wonderful,” she recalled, sitting in her family home. “A lot of the girls who got i...


Ms. Ashraf’s bold page offered a new way.

“It was so wonderful,” she recalled, sitting in her family home. “A lot of the girls who got in touch said ‘I can’t believe I’m finally being heard.’ Even though it was a dark time, here they were speaking out. There was a sense of empowerment, of relief.”

On Sept. 1, the authorities charged Mr. Zaki, 21, with three counts of sexual assault against underage women, as well as multiple counts of blackmail and harassment. He remains in detention, awaiting trial.

But then a second high-profile case came to light, also through Ms. Ashraf’s Instagram page, that complicated matters. It promised to be even more sensational — an account of a gang rape by five young men in a five-star hotel overlooking the Nile. In recent weeks, however, the case has become clouded in a murk of counter-accusations and leaked images that threatens to overshadow the progress Ms. Ashraf has made — and possibly even reverse it.

“It’s very worrisome,” she said.

Ms. Ashraf, 22, is not an archetypal Egyptian rebel. She comes from an apolitical family that lives in a gated community in eastern Cairo — a place of manicured lawns and hushed streets lined with luxury vehicles where support for Egypt’s authoritarian leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, runs relatively high.

Her father owns a software company, her mother is a nutritionist, and her family stayed in the suburbs during the 2011 uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime ruler, Hosni Mubarak, and the 2013 protests that ushered in a military takeover and Mr. el-Sisi’s rule.

When the #MeToo movement erupted in the United States in 2017, driven by accusations against the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, she didn’t pay much attention — even if she did have her own experience of assault.

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Newsrust: The 22-Year-Old Force Behind Egypt’s Growing #MeToo Movement
The 22-Year-Old Force Behind Egypt’s Growing #MeToo Movement
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