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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Egypt charges 5 after another teen suicides over blackmail

Prosecutors in Egypt charged five people after a teenager committed suicide over alleged blackmail using doctored images—the second such incident within weeks.

Heidi, 15, took her own life earlier in February, local media reported.

Her case echoes that of Basant Khaled, 17, another resident of northern Egypt, who died by suicide in December under similar circumstances. Her case parked an outpouring of sympathy and anger.

In a statement on Sunday, the public prosecution said Heidi had been subjected to blackmail using manipulated images.

According to the statement, the pictures of the victim were shared as a result of a disagreement between her mother and their neighbours.

The five are to appear in court charged with having “threatened the victim Heidi and her sister by means of a social media app, diffusing indecent images attributed to the former and attacking the sanctity of her private life,” the prosecution’s statement said.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous contry, is a conservative society where harassment of women is widespread. More than 90 percent of women aged between 18 and 39 said in 2019 that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment, according to the Arab Barometer public opinion research network.

Basant’s images were shared after she refused to have a relationship with her alleged blackmailers. 

She left behind a handwritten suicide note addressed to her mother that was shared by local media.

“Mum, you have to believe me, I am not that girl, the images are fake, I don’t deserve what happening to me,” the teenager wrote.

Police arrested two youths in January over the alleged blackmail. They also detained one of her teachers, who was accused of harassing her in front of classmates by referring to her as Egypt’s top trending topic.

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