Egypt has asked YouTube to remove a video of a sexual assault on a young woman after the victim appealed directly to the Eyptian president.
The Egyptian Embassy in Washington reached out to YouTube about taking down the video, in which the woman was seen being assaulted. The site, owned by Google Inc., has responded by taking down copies of the video in which the woman could be identified. Other versions remain in which her image is blurred out, though viewers must vouch that they are at least 18 years old.
Ehab Badawy, a spokesman for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, said the victim reached out to the president directly when he paid her a visit in her hospital room.
A video of the visit showed el-Sissi apologizing to the woman for her ordeal.
“I have come to tell you and every Egyptian woman that I am sorry,” he told her. “I am apologizing to every Egyptian woman.”
The woman’s mother told the president that the YouTube video of the sexual assault served as a constant reminder of her trauma.
“My daughter watches it every day and collapses,” she told the Egyptian president.
After Egypt reached out to YouTube about the sexual assault video, the company noted that it is policy to respond to privacy requests.
“We respect an individual’s right to privacy and have always removed videos entirely where there is a privacy complaint and an individual is clearly identifiable,” YouTube said in a statement.
Egypt has struggled with sexual assaults during the uprising that took President Morsi from power. The Guardian reported last year that 80 instances of sexual assault took place on in a single day while crowds were celebrating the toppling of Morsi’s regime.
The advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted 46 the attacks in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. HRW reported, “Egyptian officials and political leaders across the spectrum should condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square.”
Experts believed the true number of assaults during the chaotic period were much higher.
“It’s been underreported because a lot of people are unwilling to come forward,” said Soraya Bahgat, a women’s right advocate, “and because no one wanted to disturb the sanctity of Tahrir.”
Officials in Egpyt have commended YouTube for removing the sexual assault video.