In distressing news of the day, we just heard that Egyptian authorities are sending a pop singer to prison for “inciting debauchery” after she released a “sexually suggestive” music video. According to CNN, the singer, 21-year-old Shyma — whose real name is Shaimaa Ahmed — has been sentenced to two years in jail.
Egyptian outlets report that both Shyma and the director of the video, Mohamed Gamal, were arrested on November 18th, and were ordered to pay a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds, which is about $560. They were subsequently each sentenced to two years in prison this week, and both Shyma and Gamal are expected to appeal the verdict.
According to BBC News, the singer addressed the controversy in a post on her Facebook page, apologizing to those who took the video “in an inappropriate way.” She reportedly added, “I didn’t imagine all this would happen and that I would be subjected to such a strong attack from everyone.”
Amnesty International reports that since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014, the Egyptian state has been working to remove “critical voices” of the government from TV, print, and digital media. BBC News also reports that other Egyptian musicians, including three female dancers, have been similarly charged for suggestive content in their music videos.
Shyma’s video reportedly incited instant controversy upon its release last month, with many outlets criticizing the sexual nature of its imagery.
This serves as a stark reminder that censorship, as well as extreme female disempowerment, are in no way a thing of the past in many nations. We stand with Shyma and Gamal as they continue to fight the charges against them.
To learn more about how you can fight to help women like Shyma all over the globe — as well as help support international equality for women — visit AmnestyInternational.com.