The life of an Egyptian little girl has been abruptly side-tracked after she killed a bus driver who attempted to rape her after threating her with a knife more than a week ago. This sheds light on her story and of similar cases of children and women who face various forms of sexual violence including sexual harassment and rape.
The case of Amira, a 15-year-old student in the second grade of the preparatory school, has been trending on social media, as many users “praised her courage” in defending herself, citing her as a hero, without considering the legal and physiological consequences of her defence.
However, others blamed the girl for killing the assailant, noting that if she wanted to defend herself, she did not have to stab him several times.
Early on Tuesday, the general prosecution renewed the detention of Amira for 15 days pending investigations over charges of “intentional killing and the possession of a shiv.”
Not only did the decision of detaining her and the charges raise criticism, but also that the child has been detained with adults instead of being freed, or even detained with juveniles. This is especially since she turned herself in to the police and was in a state of self-defence.
According to investigations, the girl was with her boyfriend at the Giza Zoo. After a while, he took her mobile and disappeared.
She thought he was joking with her and so she tried to call him with another mobile but someone else answered the phone. The person on the phone fabricated a story, in a secret agreement with the girl’s boyfriend, claiming that he found this cell phone and if she wanted to receive it, she has to come to him in Al-Ayat, according to Amira’s lawyer, Dina ElMokadem.
Amira believed him and went to meet the minibus driver, the assailant, which investigations revealed was a friend of her boyfriend. She found him, her boyfriend, and a third friend. They got into the minibus with other commuters, ElMokadem told DNE.
On the road, Amira’s boyfriend and his friend got out of the minibus, as well as other commuters, ElMokadem revealed, adding that the bus driver offered her a ride. With that, he attempted to rape her, threating her with a knife. The girl fended him off, grabbed his knife, and stabbed him 13 times, ElMokadem added.
“Amira should not be detained because it was a case of self-defence. Even if she was not a child and only a woman, she should not have to be detained,” ElMokadem asserted.
ElMokadem added, “Amira is detained with adults and was investigated by the general prosecution, while she should be investigated by the juvenile prosecution.”
Meanwhile, ElMokadem said that she will submit a petition on Sunday to release Amira. “We are waiting for the forensic report. The investigation is in favour of Amira and corresponds with her testimony.”
In solidarity with Amira, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NNCM) pledged to provide her with all kinds of support.
Azza al-Ashmawy, secretary-general of the NCCM said that the council assigned a lawyer for the girl to follow up on investigations and provide her with legal support.
According to Article No 122 of Egypt’s Child Law No 12 of 1996, “the child court shall exclusively deal with issues concerning the child when accused of a crime or in case of his delinquency.”
“The court shall also be entitled to pass judgments regarding criminal cases outlined in Articles 113 to 116 and Article 119 of this Law.”
“The criminal court or the supreme state security court, according to each case, shall have jurisdiction over criminal cases where the accused – at the time of committing the crime – is a child above fifteen (15) years of age while the accomplice is not a child and the case necessitated bringing the criminal action against the accomplice jointly with the child.”
In this case, the article added, “the court – before passing its judgment – shall examine the circumstances of the child from all aspects and may seek the assistance of experts if it so wishes.”
Women and girls around the globe struggle with various forms of gender-based violence. The types of violence do not just include sexual violence (sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape, sexual exploitation) but also forced early marriage, domestic violence, marital rape, and trafficking.
A study by the United Nations in 2013 showed that 99.3% of Egyptian women surveyed have been subject to a form of sexual harassment.
A report issued by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in October 2017 showed that Cairo is the world’s most dangerous megacity for women. Another report by the Brazilian-based organisation ‘Instituto Promundo’ revealed that 64% of men admitted to sexually harassing women in the streets of Egypt. The forms of harassment ranged from ogling, stalking, and sometimes rape.
Regular legal procedures
“The prosecution’s decision of detention is a regular and normal legal procedure in such cases because there is a murder. But I disagree that the girl is being investigated by the general prosecution not the juvenile prosecution and that she is detained with adults,” Intesar Al-Saeed, a lawyer and the head of the Cairo Center for Development, told Daily News Egypt.
Al-Saeed noted that people on social media condemned the prosecution because it ordered the detention of the girl, but these are routine procedures, she highlighted.
“I believe the girl’s narration of the incident and that she is a violence survivor trying to fend off an assailant. We, in the centre, are following the case with Amira’s lawyer and believe that investigations are in her favour,” Al-Saeed added.
“I hope she will be freed soon and that the forensic report will support her stance in the case,” Al-Saeed continued.
Regarding the fact that the girl stabbed the assailant 13 times, Al-Saeed pointed out that she might act this way because of the trauma, meaning she was hysterical because of shock and terror.
The young girl in this situation will probably face long-time trauma and physiological consequences which can be expected to impact her future life. This is regardless of whether she would be jailed for a while or released.
“This child could be killed or raped if she did not fend off her rapist. Would the media and the patriarchal society be pleased with such a result?” Said Sadek, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo, told DNE.
Sadek said that the media is exploiting the fact that the girl has a boyfriend to attack her. “What is the connection? Rape is something else and has nothing to do with her personal life,” Sadek said.
“This girl found herself in a dangerous situation where her body and life were threatened. She was alone with a strange guy who raised a knife and attempted to rape her. Maybe she feared that if she only hits, or pushes him or even stabbed him once, he could chase her. She was not safe and tried to defend herself,” Sadek explained.
Sadek highlighted that the girl will most likely suffer from the physiological effect of this situation and have trust issues with men in the future.
“How could she trust anyone in the future after the man she loves betrayed her and agreed with his friend to rape her? Of course, she needs long-term therapy to overcome and recover from this horrific experience,” Sadek asserted.
Sadek added that the girl and her family will probably live in terror forever.
“The assailant’s family could seek revenge from the girl or her family members. Society and their community will not be tolerant with her because that she had a boyfriend and that a man attempted to rape her. They will confront many struggles to restore their normal lives,” Sadek concluded.