Tuesday, June 29, 2021

What we really know about the Tiktok girls trial “The Myth and Truth”

Last Sunday, a Cairo Criminal Court issued her verdict in the case of Egyptian Tiktok influencer Haneen Hossam and Mawada El-Adhm on charges of human trafficking.

The Court sentenced 19-years old Haneen Hossam to ten years in prison while 23-years-old Mawada El-Adhm was sentenced to six on charges related to human trafficking after they were referred to court last March by Prosecution.

Here are basic facts in the new case I believe to be lost between public hate to girls dancing in skimpy dresses, official human trafficking charges and accusations of patriarchal control over women’s bodies.

Some of these facts social media ignores whether ignorantly or deliberately.

Mawada El-Adhm "L" and Haneen Hossam "R"
Mawada El-Adhm "L" and Haneen Hossam "R"

The Criminal court sentenced Haneen Hossam to ten years in prison, which is the maximum penalty in this trial because her trial was in absentia. The defendant receives a maximum penalty when he or she stands a trial in absentia in Egypt.

Following her sentence, Haneen Hossam disappeared and then reappeared in a video without any filters or make-up or her green lens with darker natural hair in a crying plea to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the public on Tuesday.

In the two-parts-video “Part 1 and Part 2”, the girl coming from the working class denied all the charges she was found guilty of, above them human trafficking.

“How would a 19-year-old girl commit human trafficking? That is a very big term that I do not even know about. I never hurt anyone,” She said in the video seen by 5 million in total “both parts” on Instagram. She spoke about details in the case I will mention it later.

The video was published on her Instagram account where she deleted all her other old videos.

She published the last video at 1:16 AM then in the morning she was arrested by security forces in Cairo's Shubra to serve her term.

Now Haneen Hossam is arrested, she will have a retrial. According to her lawyers will be in July. The Criminal Court is going to release its reasonings within 30 days following its verdict last week.

This court’s verdict is considered a first-degree sentence that can be and will be appealed by the lawyers of the defendants as far as soon the court releases its reasoning.

The case or the trial has nothing to do with Haneen Hossam’s leaked phones calls or Mawada El-Adhm’s “bikini photos” or “sex life” or “sex clips” or any of that YouTube clickbait titles.

I will start with Mawada El-Adhm’s part.

Influencer Mawada El-Adhm was accused of human trafficking because of the videos she appeared with underage minors on social media reportedly without their formal parents’ approval profiting from these videos.

The underage minors testified in the trial: Yassin and Sandy or “H.H”.

Here is the video’s testimony of young Yassin who said that he used to visit Haneen as she is his neighbour, but he does not remember anything.

Yassin appeared in videos of El-Adhm which she shot from Madinaty compound including videos filmed last year shortly before her whole ordeal started.

Here is a compilation of Mawada El-Adhm and friends’ Tiktok videos on YouTube and little Yassin appears throughout the video. “The boy is in red and black Pjs and you can see the kind of the usual content she used to present.”

Here is another video for Yassin and Mawada doing a bad imitation of Nicki Minaj’s coronavirus baby!!


لما تلاقو حد في ضيقه بلاش تكملو عليه ادعوله علشان بيكون محتاج دعوتكم جدا ❤❤

♬ original sound - mawada eladhm

The other minor is the 13-years-old “Sandy” or “H.H”. Sandy appeared in videos published by Mawada on her social media accounts.

Here is the video from 0.35 to the clip was under the title “a message to all singles” where she brings Sandy asking her if she has a boyfriend and the girl says then how old she is, and Sandy says she is nearly 13 years old.

The rest of the video supposedly Mawada mocks the singles who cannot be in a relation. According to news reports, Sandy or H.H is also El-Adhm’s neighbour.

An Infamous ad for an infamous app

Now moving to Haneen Hossam who is the true centre of attention in the case. She is found guilty of human trafficking based on using “her fame to lure and exploit a ring of underage girls to have online chats with strange men on a social media application.”

That social media application is Singapore-based and Chinese-owned Likee and the smoking gun in the case was a video ad she published on her social media accounts.

In April 2020 just as the coronavirus partial lockdown hit the country and people sit in their homes, Haneen published on her accounts calling girls older than 18 years old who look older than their age to join an “agency” she will have on that new video chat app called Likee for money.

She added that they would work for 30 hours in 15 days for lots of dollars to chat respectably with people like TV host rejecting all sex talks or nudity warning that she was supervising that agency and would know if someone crossed their limits.

The court says that the video was not the only evidence of Haneen's ill plans to lure underage girls to vice.

There are witnesses from the girls who joined Haneen in her agency or “Likee group” including two underage girls “less than 18 years old”. Their testimonies have not been recorded or released yet to know more details.

There are also other defendants in the case, three young men that mostly ignored by the mainstream media. Two of them are Likee’s mother company Bigo Egypt office employees who allegedly contacted and made an agreement with Haneen. In social media terms, we are dealing here with referral policies and actually, Likee launched a similar referral program in dollars in 2019.

Their names are Mohamed Zaki and Mohamed Alaa, and the company hired a lawyer for them.

The third is a Likee influencer called Ahmed Salah who seemed to be an early adopter of the social media network in Egypt that according to his lawyer Makarios Lahzy he used to take from the company USD 10 per the short clip he used to upload to his account.

The three defendants were sentenced to six years in prison and LE 200 thousand each for human trafficking.

There were three Chinese employees in the Bigo Live office who were detained pending investigation in the case for four days, but they were released later.

In August 2020 the Chinese Ambassador met with the Prosecutor General in Cairo to discuss the situation of Bigo and the ambassador was quoted in Egyptian media that Bigo understood Haneen Hossam’s guilt and that it took in its consideration to committed to Egyptian laws and traditions too.

It is the second time all the defendants go to the criminal court together and get convicted. The first time was in July 2020 when both defendants and others in the trial were sentenced to two years in prison and LE 300,000 each for “violating family values and principles”.

In January 2021, a Cairo appeals court acquitted all the defendants in that case and ironically in the case of Hossam, her video ad was her own smoking gun for her innocence as the Appeal Court saw that Haneen was clear in her call that the girls she recruited must act decently and do not do anything immoral. Here is the full reasoning with the details of the case and the reasonings of the court online but unfortunately in Arabic. 

According to Hossam’s plea video published above what she said in her ad that turned her life upside down was a script presented by none other than the Chinese-owned social media network.

Till this day Bigo which owns Likee is operating in Egypt and ironically thanks to Haneen Hossam more people flocked to download Likee in the past week to see what all this fuzz about.

Bigo Live and Likee owe Haneen Hossam a lot. “Piece of advice: Do not use those apps.”

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