A climate of fear has gripped Egypt’s #MeToo movement as the arrests of witnesses in a high-profile rape case threaten to derail efforts to curb male sexual violence in the Arab country.
A group of nine men from wealthy families are suspected of drugging and gang-raping a young woman in Cairo’s luxury Fairmont hotel and circulating a video of the assault.
It allegedly took place in 2014 but the allegations only emerged online in July and a complaint was filed in early August.
Five suspects were arrested, three of them in Lebanon which handed them over to Egyptian authorities this week.
Another four fled to the UK and the US, according to a women’s activist connected to the case who requested anonymity.
But events have taken a sudden U-turn.
At the end of last month, authorities also arrested four witnesses, along with two acquaintances with no direct links to the case, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The US-based rights monitor said the six have been accused of “violating laws on ‘morality’ and ‘debauchery.’”