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Egypt court orders TV host jailed for blaming assault victim

February 29, 2016

An Egyptian court sentenced a former television host to a year and six months in prison Monday for trying to shame a sexual harassment victim on her show, a judicial source said.

Riham Saeed, who hosted a controversial show, was also fined 10,000 pounds (about $1,280), and the misdemeanour court set a 15,000 pounds bail until her appeals are exhausted.

Saeed had sparked a backlash when she suggested the victim had asked for the abuse, and aired private pictures of her on a beach.

The woman had been at a shopping mall when she argued with a man who apparently flirted with her. CCTV footage caught him slapping her twice.

In her show Saeed interviewed the woman, who said the man had verbally harassed her. When she threatened to call security, he hit her.

She then began a monologue in which she blamed the victim herself, and aired the pictures.

“If I accept being carried like that in a bathing costume, I’m definitely going to accept anybody flirting with me,” Saeed said.

The misdemeanour court convicted her of insulting and violating the woman’s privacy.

The privately-owned Al-Nahar channel had suspended Saeed’s show in October.

Verbal and physical sexual harassment is rampant in Egypt, where a 2013 UN survey found that more than 99 percent of women polled said they had received unwelcome sexual advances.

Women say they are harassed regardless of whether they wear conservative Islamic veils or Western-style clothing.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.