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Outcry over death of Egyptian woman harassed and run over by group of men

Mariam Mohamed was walking in Cairo’s Maadi district when she was killed as she tried to get away from harassers
Mariam Mohamed was walking home when she was harassed and killed by a group of men (Screengrab/Twitter)

The killing of a woman in the Maadi neighbourhood of Cairo has sparked condemnation online, and reignited the conversation about widespread sexual harassment in the country. 

The woman, identified as Mariam Mohamed, was walking home from work on Wednesday when three men in a parked vehicle started harassing her. After Mohamed resisted, the men then pursued her, driving alongside her. 

Mohamed was then chased for ten metres, at which point she was run over and killed, according to local media. 

Security services in the Egyptian capital have arrested two suspects in relation to the case, who admitted to forming a gang which specialises in thefts, local media said. 

According to reports, security footage of the incident is being investigated by the authorities.

Egypt’s public prosecution issued a statement on Wednesday saying that they had received reports of the death of Mohamed from a witness, who said they saw the men grab her bag before her death.

“The prosecution has received a report from the Maadi police station about the death of 24-year-old Mariam, with a witness reporting they saw men in a white minivan grab her bag," the statement said.

"The public prosecution has examined the body of the victim which was found seriously injured.

"The general administration for forensic evidence also found traces of blood stained with sand from the van.”

The public prosecution have said they will complete investigations by hearing testimonies from witnesses and continue obtaining forensic evidence. 

The incident has sparked outrage online, with many people sharing the hashtags #العدالة_لمريم (#JusticeForMariam), #حق_مريم_فين  (Where are Mariam’s rights) and #فتاة_المعادي (Maadi girl) and demanding that the perpetrators are found and held accountable.

Public figures, including popular Egyptian actor Mohamed Henedy, have also weighed in on the incident, helping to raise awareness of the issue.

Translation: This beautiful girl’s name is Mariam Mohamed, she was walking when three beings, who can’t even be called vicious animals because that would be derogatory to animals, harassed her and when she tried to get away from them they killed her... I hope these people are subjected to the maximum punishment possible so they can be a lesson to others.

The incident has reignited conversations about sexual harassment in Egypt, which has long plagued the country.

One social media user condemned the killers and called on authorities to take action over similar cases that might occur: "To the 'men' who make fun of us for being feminists, please educate yourself and understand why we're fighting for ourselves. This is why. An innocent woman was harassed and killed in a brutal way..."

Another user stated that women no longer feel safe in Egypt: "How many Mariams will it take for the authorities to do something about street harassment? This is beyond outrageous. We don't feel safe anywhere."

Online, social media users have encouraged others to keep talking about the incident in order to raise awareness about violence against women. 

Earlier this month, an Egyptian court began hearing a high-profile case of alleged blackmail and sexual assault that unleashed a wave of accusations against prominent men in Egypt.

The case attracted widespread attention from the media, religious figures and women's groups in a country where rights defenders say sexual harassment or abuse often goes unpunished.

A 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found Cairo to be the most dangerous megacity for women, and 99 percent of women in Egypt interviewed by the United Nations in 2013 said they had experienced sexual harassment.