Egyptian actress Rania Youssef shows us that the world is not as progressive as we thought. At the closing ceremony of the 40th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival, Youssef wore a black sheer Elizabeth Franky Mlihigue gown with a black bodysuit underneath. Sadly her taste in fashion may cause her to spend up to 5 years in prison.
A lawsuit was filed against the actress by 3 lawyers who claim she dressed in a way that was an “incitement to debauchery.” Her trial is scheduled in January of 2019. “I didn’t expect this reaction, and if I had known, I wouldn’t have worn this dress,” Youssef stated in an apology.
The 40-year-old actress is one of the latest to be targeted by lawyers who are claiming to maintain conservative attire for women, regulate jokes and public behavior in Egypt. Under the authoritarian rule of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egyptian women are being stripped of their rights to say and wear what they want.
Earlier this year, pop star Sherine Abdel-Wahab was sentenced to six months in prison for a joke about the Nile River and its reputation for being extremely filthy. The charges were acquitted after an appeal. Hopefully, Youssef will have the same luck.
I’m reminded daily of how blessed we are to live in America where we can wear what we want, say what we want and do what we want. Is America perfect? Absolutely not. Women still get harassed for wearing certain outfits and we don’t get paid the same as our male counterparts. Still, could you imagine if Jennifer Lopez had to go to trial for her infamous Versace dress? What about Amber Rose and her beaded 2014 Video Music Awards dress? And lets not forget any ensemble the Kardashians decide to wear outside.
It’s sad that Youssef felt the need to apologize for what she wore. Women have the right to wear what they want to, unapologetically. Unfortunately, in other parts of the world, our voices are silenced. Although she regrets wearing her gown, I hope somehow Youssef’s case is able to spark a need for advocacy in the name of women.