The Giza Misdemeanour Court accepted on Sunday an appeal submitted by TV anchor Reham Saeed to acquit her from two sentences she received in February on accusations of defaming and violating the privacy of sexual assault victim Somya Tarek on her TV show Sabaya Al-Kheir on privately-owned channel Al-Nahar in October 2015.
The court acquitted Saeed from two ruling sentences, which is a total of 18 months in prison and a fine of EGP 25,000, as Saeed was previously handed a six-month prison sentence, and EGP 10,000 fine for defaming a victim of sexual assault, and an additional year in prison and a EGP 15,000 fine for violating the victim’s privacy.
The court decision came after Tarek’s defence, demanded the lawsuit presented against the TV anchor directly following the incident be dropped and confirmed a reconciliation with Saeed.
Following the acquittal, Al-Nahar announced that Tarek will appear in a special interview on Saeed’s show on Monday.
Saeed’s show resumed earlier in May after a six-month suspension. In the first new episode on 2 May, Saeed apologised to the audience regarding the case.
Dalia Abdel Hameed, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, commented on Saeed’s acquittal to Daily News Egypt, saying that this is a ”regrettable situation”.
Abdel Hamed said that both sides are free to reconcile but this is a case of public concern. The latest updates indicate that the channel stopped the show and suspended Saeed in response to wide-spread criticism from the public at the time. However, all this was retracted once public pressure had subsided. She also added that the latest situation does not corroborate with the channel’s statement following the incident, confirming the staff’s respect for Egyptian women.
How these scenarios are treated in the media downgrades the importance of confronting such an incident and flouts any invasions of privacy, Abdel Hamed said.
The researcher suggested continued public pressure to avoid such cases, and said that the media must be more aware of not defending people who are promoting harassment or justifying it.
The case dates back to last October, when Saeed interviewed Tarek, a girl who was assaulted and harassed by a man in a shopping mall. During the episode, Saeed contended that Tarek’s revealing clothes was the reason the man harassed her. The TV anchor also aired personal photos taken from Tarek’s mobile phone in order to support her allegations against the girl.
The woman alleged that the photos were taken from her phone without her permission while it was charging in the studio. However, Saeed alleges that the show’s director received the photos on WhatsApp from an indentified source.
Saeed’s reaction caused public outrage following the case, especially on social media platforms where hashtags were shared, calling for the TV anchor’s suspension. The public anger shown against Saeed caused her to be suspended and 15 companies that were sponsoring her programme withdrew their sponsorship.
The aforementioned incident was not the first time Saeed attacked a female victim of sexual harassment. In February 2015, Saeed slandered a girl who was allegedly raped and accused her of “immorality”.