Egyptian Actress Rania Youssef could be facing up to five years of jail time for wearing a revealing dress at the Cairo Film Festival just over a week ago. The charges over her dress came from three Egyptian lawyers who referred to the wardrobe choice as an “incitement to debauchery.”
Youssef’s charges come in a long line of similar charges against celebrities and members of the gay community to crackdown on those pushing the boundaries of traditional Egyptian culture. Because of this, it is likely that Youssef knew what the backlash would be when she took to the carpet in such a controversial gown.
— اليوم السابع (@youm7) November 29, 2018
We here at “NYMM” want to empower women to take a stand in face of adversity and fight for equality. Because of this, we are proud of Youssef for her choosing to make such a prominent statement, but not at the cost of her own freedom. We want to encourage women to make a difference while also protecting themselves.
However, a “Washington Post” article suggests the global headlines Youssef has attracted are a positive sign, considering that many women in the country are facing severe persecution for having done much less.
For example, a woman recently had 45 more days added to her preventative detention for uploading a video detailing her personal experiences with sexual assault and Egypt’s failure to protect its women. She was charged with “publication of false news undermining national security” and “joining a terror group.”
The charges against Youssef were waived after she made an official apology stating, “I didn’t expect this reaction, and if I had known, I wouldn’t have worn this dress.” However, it’s likely that it wasn’t the apology that saved the actress from serving jail time, but rather the combination of the apology and its media attention.
In a statement to “El Watan News,” the lawyers who first charged Youssef detailed their decision to drop the charges based on her public apology. They stated, “When we took legal action, this was not for the purpose of personal gains or benefits, nor was it intended to deprive her person, but was out of concern for public order and ethics and sensing the danger facing the Egyptian society as a result of that incident.”
Egypt’s Artistic Syndicates Union has also stated that they will put a dress code in place for female celebrities who walk the red carpet, referring to this incident as a “crisis.”
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