Aya Yousef says her life has been all but destroyed after the video of her belly-dancing during a daytime river cruise on the Nile went viral on social media.
Aya, an Egyptian school teacher, was on the pleasure cruise with colleagues last month, and in the video she can be seen dancing with male colleagues.
By Western standards her dancing is very tame. She's also fully clothed and wearing a headscarf in the video, which another teacher had taken without Aya's knowledge or permission.
The video, which was reportedly recorded last year, has ruined the life of the mother of three, as conservative critics online have slammed her behaviour. She was fired from the primary school where she taught Arabic for several years, and her husband divorced her.
She said the video was "a transgression of [her] privacy", and pointed out that she didn't dance at a public institution or in front of pupils. She's now planning to sue the person who filmed the video.
“My life was destroyed because of the video from an unscrupulous person who tried to tarnish my reputation and brought the camera close to me only to show me in a bad manner,” Aya said in a statement.
“I really made a mistake because I was happy and played with people who weren't honest. People bullied and insulted me. I lost my job, my husband, my home, and my mother got sick. My family was impacted by what happened.”
Women's rights advocates in the northern African nation have hit back at Aya's critics, saying she's the victim of a witch hunt.
Dr Nihad Abu al-Qumsan, the head of the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights, offered Aya a job and promised to help her file a legal complaint.
“We'll ask the court about the correct dance rules – so that all women would conform to the right rules if they dance at their brother’s or their son’s weddings, or at birthdays,” Al-Qumsan quipped.
In a show of solidarity with Aya, a deputy director of another school uploaded pictures of herself dancing at her daughter’s wedding.
Aya has since been appointed in a teaching position at another school, which she says has helped her recover some of her self-esteem.
“The decision of the education directorate to return me to my work made me feel that part of my life began to return to its nature, and that part of my dignity was recovered,” she told the Egypt Independent.
SOURCES: ALJAZEERA.COM, BBC.COM, REPUBLICWORLD.COM, INDIATODAY.IN