For women and girls in Egypt, sexual assault has long been endemic – but victims are now fighting back like never before, writes Salma El-Wardany.

Every woman I know in Egypt has a story of sexual harassment, assault or rape.

It has become part of everyday life in a country where for women picking an outfit is less about style, and more about protection.

Over the years, a culture of patriarchy, religion and conservatism has meant women often stay silent when sexual abuse happens because victim-blaming is all too common.

Now though, women and girls are finally breaking decades of silence, taking to social media to share their stories of assault, empower one another and call for justice.

This new wave of change alI began in July when claims were shared online against student Ahmed Bassam Zaki.

Nadeen Ashraf, a 22-year-old fellow student, set up the Instagram account Assault Police to share these allegations and received an outpouring of messages from women claiming that Ahmed Bassam Zaki had blackmailed, assaulted, harassed and raped them.

Within days he was arrested and is on trial charged with “sexually assaulting three girls under the age of 18 and threatening them, along with blackmailing a fourth girl”. He denies the charges.

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