The duplicity in sexual harassment responses: how the society received the news of Warda’s newest scandal and the cupcakes incident

The rapid response on the “cupcake incident” and the lack of it on Amr Warda’s is forcing us to draw parallels with several other infringement of family values cases and their responses.



A female pastry chef was arrested, and a football player was confirmed as sexual harasser for the second time in six months. Feeling lost? Let us guide you through the latest updates of last week. If you have been off the grid for the last week, two incidents had occurred within a four-day difference of each other.

Dubbed by the media as the “cupcake incident”, a set of controversial images kept circulating around social platforms of a group of prestigious women of older age in a social gathering at “El Gezirah Club” eating cupcakes decorated with confectionary shaped as genetalia (male ones mostly). Immediately, this became the talk of the town, and everyone piped in with their opinions on the ‘issue’. In their constant attempts to control Egyptian public morality, Egyptian authorities took an immediate stance, and the baker- whose identity was not released to the public- was brought in for questioning and held in custody. The baker was then released on bail of 5000 Egyptian pounds. The members who were involved in the incident allegedly had their memberships revoked from “El Gezirah Club”. Dar El Ifta also released their saying on that matter saying that the products featuring such sexual representations are an “assault on the value system and a crude abuse of society”. The Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, was summoned by the parliament to form a committee to investigate the involvement of the club with the gathering and provide an urgent explanation regarding the cupcake incident.

 

Within four days of the cupcake incident, screenshots were shared by a woman called Faidra of Egyptian football player Amr Warda harassing her through direct messages on Instagram. Unfortunately, this is not déjà vu; Amr Warda is involved in another sexual harassment scandal. The messages followed his known pattern of him harassing the girl, asking her about her sexual life, proceeding to shame her, and calling her names. His self-entitlement reached the point of him threatening to expose her to her family with absolutely no right or authority to do so.

In case you need a mind refresher, this is not Warda’s first time being exposed as a sexual harasser.  He was exposed last year by British Egyptian model, Merhan Keller, when he approached her with harassing messages with disgusting content. Keller did not hesitate to expose his true nature to the world, and many girls joined her soon after. Apparently, this was not Warda’s first attempt reaching out to girls. He had done this multiple times, and he was even at risk of losing his loan contract with Portugal’s Feirnese due to accusations of him sexually harassing two wives of his teammates. This scandal resulted in Warda being excluded from the Egyptian national team during FIFA world cup. However, the exclusion only lasted for 48 hours as instead of shaming him for his heinous acts, Warda received support from the people including some teammates and icons! He then released an apology video which led him to be back on the national team. A recent interview on the 31st of December revealed that he was actually not sorry, and he only apologized to get back on the field. He does not acknowledge the fact that he committed shameful acts, but instead he addresses himself as the victim of said situation and is deserving of an apology!  Latest released screenshots also proved that he is not only a serial harasser; he is a pedophile as well. Some of the girls he recently contacted were as young as 14 and 15 years old, and he explicitly expressed his interest in the girl being a minor! Is that someone that should be on our national football team and is a representative of our country? What kind of message are we sending to the world with letting a sexual harasser be part of our national team?  Amr Warda is more than just an individual. He represents the patriarchal system, and his actions exist because of the lack of accountability people like him are held for their actions.

 

The infringement of Egyptian family values was the reason various of arrests were made as of last year. The rapid response on the “cupcake incident” and the lack of it on Amr Warda’s is forcing us to draw parallels with several other morality related offences and their responses. 2020 had witnessed the uproar of the #metoo movement which led to the exposure of multiple rapists and sexual harassers. However, it had also witnessed a number of arrests under the accusation of violating public morals and the infringement of Egyptian family values. The vague nature of the charges has allowed the arrests to be invoked in a wide range of contexts.

 

It seems that a rapid action is always taken when it comes to women and their freedom of expression. Arrests and cases included high profile icons such as actress Rania Youssef, television show host Doaa Salah, singer Shyma, and Russian belly dancer Johara. We have also seen the wave of arrests targeting the newly found ‘stars’ of social media platform, TikTok. One of the most known cases were of Mawada Al Adham and Haneen Hossam who were actually sentenced to two years in prison and charged with a fine of 300,000 Egyptian pounds. The rulings were recently dropped, and both of them were let go. In a subsequent ruling, Manar Samy, who is also a TikTok user, was sentenced to three years of imprisonment and charged with the same fine.  Actions were taken against all previously mentioned cases within a matter of days, investigation occurred, and rulings were issued within the matter of months. Meanwhile, several serious offenses committed by men against women that were of sexual nature are being tossed to the side with almost no consequences. A recent incident that was reported by a brave girl who decided to come forward and file a report against a man who committed a sexual assault against the girl in public transportation. The man was brought in and confessed to the prosecution that he was in fact masturbating next to the girl. However, instead of condemning the man for this act, people publicly shamed the girl for having the audacity of filing a report with such an inappropriate content and that she has no right of ruining the man’s reputation. People also went as far as excusing and justifying the action for the man as he is a doctor, and there is no way he would commit this action consciously. The man was released on bail and is roaming around with his reputation untouched and unharmed.

 

It seems that there is a visible pattern of excusing men for their acts and condemning the women for confessing. The repercussions of the constant excusal of men’s actions are now clear as day in Warda’s unashamed and crude responses and actions. Every time a man is not held accountable for his actions is just another sexual offense in the making. It seems that immediate legal actions are taken when there are women involved in the situation however the prosecution takes their sweet time investigating matters when it comes to men as their career and future are way more important than a woman’s cry for help. Unfortunately, these double standards are embedded so deep within our culture and were boldly highlighted this week with the cupcake incident and Amr Warda’s return occurring back-to-back within mere days of each other. Would a serious action be taken this time against Amr Warda or will it just be another meaningless apology video aimed to subdue the public? We can only hope it’s the former rather than the latter.