The work of Egyptian feminists was fundamental in drawing the attention of local authorities to the case of the Brazilian doctor imprisoned in Egypt for having committed a sexual offense against a saleswoman.
Victor Sorrentino was excluded before returning to Brazil on Sunday (30), after a wave of publications that marked the Egyptian official authorities on social networks. Tuesday (1), the public prosecutor announced the request for preventive detention of the Brazilian for four days, pending investigations.
Sorrentino was questioned by authorities after a few days’ trip to Egypt about a video posted on his Instagram profile, a platform on which he has nearly a million followers.
In the recording, made on the 24th, he says in Portuguese to a papyrus seller: “You really like hard stuff, don’t you? Long is good too, right? “. The woman, not understanding the questions, smiles and nods, while the Brazilian laughs with another man.
After criticism, he made the profile on the private social network and published a post in which he said he was “very playful”. “Since I saw that you’re a laughing person and that you were playing with us, I ended up playing.”
With more than 320,000 subscribers on major social networks, the Speak Up movement, created by activist Gehad Hamdy, 26, has gone viral on the subject in Arabic, and the subject has become one of the most discussed in Egypt. during the weekend. In a country with a history of human rights violations and censorship, and which lives under authoritarian rule even after the Arab Spring in 2011, Hamdy views positive the recent cooperation the group has established with some government agencies.
She learned about Sorrentino’s story after contacting around 20 Brazilian women, who submitted the video with English subtitles and details of what happened. “Since we were 100% safe, we wrote articles with the information and posted it on all social media, asking people to tag official organizations, a practice we still do. Many began to comment, the video went viral, and it [o brasileiro] he was arrested in less than 24 hours, ”she tells Folha, who lives in Cairo.
In Brazil, the story gained momentum thanks to LGBT activist Antonio Isuperio, alerted to the content by his friend Fabio Iorio, who visited Sorrentino’s page. The doctor – an advocate for hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of Covid, an ineffective remedy for the disease – uses the networks for health and longevity advice.
The Brazilian duo captioned the videos from the moment of the offense and began a mobilization via social networks. “We haven’t slept well for nearly ten days, we’re just passing information to the thousands of women who interact with us, from Brazil and Egypt,” says Isuperio, who lives in New York.
He contacted the founder of Speak Up, and from the Arabic hashtag حاسبوا المتحرش البرازيلي (hold the Brazilian stalker to account), the case quickly had national repercussions, reached the authorities and was widely reported by the local press. .
A friend of the victim contacted by the report claims that many posts linked to the hashtag show the face of the seller. He urges that, when sharing the file, the version in which the image of the woman is blurred be used, in order to preserve her identity.
Speak Up originated in July 2020 from a Hamdy post, in which she refuted the false argument that the harassment was related to the clothes worn by the victim. Justification, according to a 2013 UN survey, was used by 73% of men accused of harassment in Egypt. In the post, the activist asked people to share stories of abuse to show that the thesis is false.
“I received over 8,000 messages in two days. Most said they felt better about telling the stories, but others needed psychological or legal help, ”says Hamdy.
The activist says she has had no issues with censorship or retaliation since setting up the organization, and, she says, authorities have started working with the group. “Official organizations have contacted us about rape cases, to arrest the accused or even to reopen investigations. “
On the networks, the movement thanked those affected by the video of the seller targeted by sexual offenses as well as the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior “for its rapid response”. “What has happened is a collective effort, not an individual one, in different parts of the world. Congratulations to all of us.”