TikTok Star Jailed Over Human Trafficking

An Egyptian TikTok star has been found guilty of human trafficking and sentenced to three years in prison. 

Haneen Hossam, who is in her early twenties, is accused of using video-sharing platforms to exploit girls for money. 

She denied the charge, which was connected to an invitation to her followers to earn money by making live videos. 

She was charged as part of a crackdown on female social media influencers, according to human rights activists. 

They claim that the charges brought against Hossam and at least 11 other women with millions of followers since 2020 are a violation of their right to privacy, freedom of expression, non-discrimination, and bodily autonomy. 

‘Why was my sister imprisoned because she danced on TikTok?’

She was first arrested in April 2020 after inviting her women followers to join another video-sharing platform, Likee, where she said they could make money by broadcasting live videos.

That July, Cairo’s Economic Court convicted Hossam and another TikTok star, Mawada al-Adham, of the charge of “violating family values and principles”. It sentenced them to two years in prison and fined them 300,000 Egyptian pounds ($16,100; £12,400).

In January 2021, an appeals court acquitted Hossam and overturned Adham’s prison sentence, and they were released the next month. Prosecutors then added the more serious charge of human trafficking to the mix. 

The women were accused of “using girls in acts contrary to Egyptian society’s principles and values in order to gain material benefits.” It was linked to a group Hossam promoted on Likee and videos Adham posted on Instagram and TikTok, according to local media. 

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The Cairo Criminal Court found both of them guilty of the crime in June. Hossam was sentenced to ten years in prison in his absence, while Adham, who was present, received a six-year sentence.

Before she was detained, Hossam posted a tearful video in which she stated that she “didn’t do anything immoral to deserve all of this” and that no one had been harmed. 

She was granted a new trial, but on Monday, the same court found her guilty. The judge sentenced her to three years in prison and fined her 200,000 Egyptian pounds ($10,800). 

The verdict, according to Mai El-Sadany, a US-based human rights lawyer and director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, “criminalizes what influencers globally do every day when they invite others to work with them and monetize TikTok activity.”

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