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Murder or suicide?.. How family and society failed Alyaa Amer in Egypt

Murder or suicide?.. How family and society failed Alyaa Amer in Egypt

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Life Women’s Rights

Monday 5 December 202204:25 pm
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قٌتلت أو انتحرت؟... "خذلان الأهل" كتب نهاية علياء عامر المأسوية

"My older cousin Essam Mohamed Mahmoud Amer molested me when I was young, and when I told my father, he did not believe me. Bye." Signed with a heart emoji, these words embodied the very last post that 24-year-old Egyptian Alyaa Amer left on Facebook. It wasn't long before it was reported that she had fallen to her death from the third floor of her house in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 27th.

In the hours following her death, Alyaa's post went viral across social media platforms in Egypt and several Arab countries. Commentators expressed their deep sadness and regret over her death, deeming that her "father failing her" and not believing in her as the direct cause of her death — a death that some did not rule out to be murder, rather than the suicide that the parents' account claims.

Prosecution: 'No criminal suspicions'

The Egyptian Public Prosecution said in a statement on its Facebook account that it is "conducting its investigations into the death of 24-year-old Alyaa Amer after she fell from the balcony of her residence on the third floor in Itay al-Barud," pointing out that it "has not yet been determined that there are any criminal suspicions in her death."

After revealing she was molested as a child by her cousin, #AlyaaAmer falls to her death from the 3rd floor of her family home. While some suspect foul play instead of suicide, everyone agrees she's a victim of "parents failing" their daughters

The prosecution explained that after it got word of the incident, it immediately headed to the scene of the incident, examined it, and watched the recordings of surveillance cameras in its vicinity. It also "identified the moment of the fall, examined her body, and assigned the forensic doctor to conduct an autopsy."

The prosecution also took the statements of the victim's father, brother, sisters, and some of her relatives, and concluded that "there were family disputes between the deceased and her father. There was also an earlier incident where the deceased was subjected to harassment by one of her relatives years ago." It goes on to note that "investigations have not yet established a link between her death and her disputes with her father, or the aforementioned harassment incident" and that "she threw herself from the balcony of her home, and investigations are being conducted to reveal the truth of the incident."

Her parents failing her was what "killed her"

Through the hashtag #AlyaaAmer, commenters blamed the victim's family for not believing her and not providing her with psychological support after she revealed that she had been harassed and molested. They shared her posts that hint at her miserable life, saying that "The family's wound does not heal". Some circulated alleged posts by Alyaa's friends, talking about her being subjected to repeated domestic violence by her father.

"She either committed suicide or someone pushed her. In all cases, #AlyaaAmer was subjected to harassment, disbelief, denial, threats, intimidation, and death."

Shaimaa said via Twitter: "Child harassment and molestation is a silenced crime that no one speaks of in our society, and often the harasser is a relative who takes advantage of the fact that the child will not speak, and even if he/she does speak, no one will take his/her words seriously. The effects of child harassment are severe if you don't treat the child when he/she grows up. If it is a girl, she will grow up hating her feminine nature and hating all men."

Many stressed that regardless of how Alyaa died, whether she committed suicide or was thrown from the balcony, what is certain is that she was the victim of her family failing her. Aya shared Alyaa's last post, commenting: "Alyaa was thrown from the fifth floor in her family house right after this post... She either committed suicide or someone pushed her. In all cases, Alyaa was subjected to harassment, disbelief, denial, threats, intimidation, and death."

For her part, lawyer and feminist activist Intsar el-Saeed wrote: "I wish parents would support their daughters and stand up for them when necessary and before it becomes too late... May there be peace and mercy to Alyaa and to all women and girls who are victims of gender-based violence."

"Female infanticide not seen by the law"

Meanwhile, Egyptian lawyer and feminist activist Nessma Al-Khatib pointed out the similarity between Alyaa's case and that of doctor Sara Khaled, who had died in a similar way (falling from the fifth floor of her family home) in June 2022 after telling her friends that she had been subjected to domestic violence.

"Female infanticide not seen by the law".. #AlyaaAmer died the same way as #SarahKhaled. Both were killed in an incident that "represents the ugliness of the crimes that quietly take place behind closed doors on the bodies of girls and women"

The Public Prosecution listed the incident as suicide and authorized the burial of the body. However, the legal aid unit of Sanad — a voluntary legal initiative aimed at supporting women and victims of domestic violence founded by al-Khatib — in cooperation with the National Council for Women, submitted a request to the Public Prosecution to reopen the investigation into the case, amid suspicions by the victim's friends that she was murdered and did not commit suicide.

After the Public Prosecution heard the testimony of the witnesses, and was presented with evidence that the victim was being subjected to repeated domestic violence, even just hours before her death, and that she had asked for help from her friends before her death, the forensic report stated that she had been tortured hours before her death, which led her to try to escape from the window in the hope of saving herself before she fell to her death.

The statement of the "Sanad" campaign under the title "Female infanticide not seen by the law" on the occasion of '16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence', pointed out that Sarah Khaled's incident "represents the ugliness of the crimes that quietly take place behind closed doors on the bodies of girls and women, and that no one but God knows anything about". The incident was recently proven by the prosecution's investigations that what she was subjected to "is not suicide, as her family had claimed" and revealed "how the lives of girls who are victims of domestic violence, meet death while trying to escape violence."

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