Suicide of sexually blackmailed Egyptian teenage girl sends shockwaves on social media

Suicide of sexually blackmailed Egyptian teenage girl sends shockwaves on social media
A teenage girl ended her life in northern Egypt after being blackmailed through doctored pictures.
3 min read
05 January, 2022
Egypt criminalised cybercrimes in 2018, but there was no mention of blackmail. [Getty]

Cairo - The suicide of a teenage girl in a village in northern Egypt after being sexually blackmailed by two men has sent shock waves on social media over the past few days.

Users commenting under the trending hashtag “Bassant’s right must return” are now calling on the authorities to arrest the perpetrators, who led her to end her life by swallowing a toxic pill end of last week in Gharbia province.

Two men created indecent doctored pictures of Bassant Khaled, 17, and blackmailed her, asking her to enter into a relationship with them. When she refused, they posted the pictures online, according to her sister’s fiancé Abdulla Abul-Magd.

“After the photos went viral, Bassant was subjected to bullying by her young peers and even teachers,” Abul-Magd, also the family’s lawyer, told Al-Qahera Wal Nas satellite TV channel late on Monday.

“The day her father saw the pictures through some people on the street, telling him: ‘look what your daughter did […]’ he confronted her and she denied […]. He tended not to believe her […],” Abul-Magd added, “she could not take it anymore […] committing suicide […] leaving her mother a note.”

In her suicide note, Bassant wrote: “Mom […] I’m a young girl […] I don’t deserve all what’s happening to me. I feel like I’m suffocating. I’m really tired […]. Have mercy on me, people. I’m well-brought-up.”  

The victim had informed her family of the names of the two alleged blackmailers before her death. They reported them to the authorities. But the two perpetrators had already fled the village upon the girl’s death.

Egyptian authorities have not issued any statement on the incident yet. Neither have any state-run or independent women’s or children’s rights groups reacted till present time.

Social media users, however, were quick to react.

A Twitter user, @Haneen83683066, addressed anti-feminist writings by Islamic scholars:

“Sheikhs who have nothing to do but [talk about] women day and night, tackling feminism. Where are your voices now when girls lose their lives unlawfully [?] […] At least, where is your condemnation[?]”

Another user, @Mohamed27shohdy, criticised the perceived hypocrisy of society in his tweet, attaching a picture of Bassant:

“Of course, the family of the dog who caused the [suicide] will defend him and say he is a boy and has the right to do whatever he wants. She shouldn’t have been that stubborn and she could have met his demands and covered the whole thing up to save her reputation. Also, the idea that she committed suicide and died as an unbeliever was implanted in our minds by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabis in a male-dominated society.”

Based on the Egyptian anti-cybercrime law passed in 2018, whoever uses technology to violate the decency and privacy of individuals is punishable with two to five year prison sentences and subjected to fines ranging from 100 thousand to 300 thousand Egyptian pounds (6,365 to 19,097 US dollars), or one of the two penalties. But the law does not deal with blackmail crimes via technology.