After filing sexual assault complaint against employer, Youm7 journalist banned from entering workplace

Youm7 journalist May al-Shamy, who filed a sexual assault complaint against a prominent figure at the outlet in late August, was prevented from entering the newspaper’s main office on Tuesday, according to a statement she published on her personal Facebook page.

Shamy’s lawyer, Entesar al-Saeed, told Mada Masr that upon returning from two week’s annual leave on Tuesday, building security verbally informed her client that she had been banned from the building. Shamy filed a complaint with the Manpower Ministry’s Labor Bureau, which is competent to look into labor disputes between employees and their employers in cases of forced dismissal, among others. Saeed added that the journalist also filed a legal complaint at the Dokki Police Station.

Several weeks earlier, on August 31, Saeed had filed a different complaint with the Dokki Police Station accusing a prominent figure at the privately owned newspaper of sexually assaulting her, both physically and verbally. Saeed previously told Mada Masr that the complaint, leveled against “one of her [client’s] employers at the newspaper for which she works,” had been referred to the public prosecution, which is currently conducting investigations.

Shortly after Shamy filed this legal complaint, a legal consultant at Egyptian Media Group (EMG) confirmed to Mada Masr that an internal investigation had commenced and that the findings would be published. However, the journalist’s lawyers were informed in mid-September that the investigation had been shelved.

Saeed told Mada Masr that the timing suggests that Shamy’s ban from her place on work may be the result of as-of-yet unannounced decision made by the company’s administration, stemming from the investigation.

Mada Masr reached out to Anwar Rifai, the legal consultant at EMG, which is owned by Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, but he was unavailable for comment.

After Shamy’s accusations were made public, she faced a smear campaign in the media. TV presenter Ahmed Moussa addressed the issue in an episode of his show “Ala Mas’ouleyety,” (My Responsibility) which airs on the privately owned Sada al-Balad, claiming that those voicing their support for Shamy were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, criminals, members of the April 6 Youth Movement and activists funded by “the fifth column.” He added that the social media campaign expressing solidarity with the journalist had been initiated by Qatar and Turkey.

In addition to the sexual assault complaint filed at the Dokki Police Station, Shamy also filed complaints with the Supreme Media Regulatory Council and the Journalists Syndicate, one accusing an individual at Youm7 of sexually assault her, and another accusing Moussa of unprofessional conduct and politicizing her case.

Egypt’s Penal Code lists sexual harassment as a criminal act, and it stipulates a minimum six-month sentence and/or a fine of LE3,000-5,000. The penalty may be harsher in cases of repeat offenders, or if the offender is in a position of authority in a professional, familial or academic capacity.

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