Changing Egypt: Nine Men Convicted of Sexual Assaults

anti-sexual harassment anti-police failures demo, press syndicate photo by hossam el- amalawy

anti-sexual harassment anti-police failures demo, press syndicate photo by hossam el- amalawy

CAIRO, Egypt — A Thomson Reuters Foundation survey last year showed that Egypt has been the worst Arab country for women. A swell of gang rapes, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, and other crimes against women have been on the rise since the Arab Spring.

In President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s continued efforts to combat the high incidence of sexual assaults in Egypt, Wednesday an Egyptian judge convicted nine men of committing sexual assaults. The men, ages 16-49, received extensive sentences ranging from 20-years to life in prison, reported the state-run newspaper al-Ahram.

The Guardian reports that 250 sexual assaults have been documented since the Tahrir riots in 2011, for the first time they resulted in a police investigation and the president visiting with a victim. The arrests of the men were made in response to the country’s new law that more thoroughly defined sexual assault and imposed stricter penalties. As some of the most severe sexual assault sentences the country has seen, it shows the country’s dedication to cracking down on the crime.

Seven of the nine men have been sentenced to life in prison. In addition to sexual assault they were all charged with and of attempted rape, attempted murder and torture, according to Reuters. They also reported that these are the longest sentences for sexual assaults that Egypt has since President Sisi's campaign to criminalize sexual assaults.

As is customary in Egyptian courts, the accused men stood in cages while the verdicts were read to them. Reuters reported that when the verdicts were delivered the convicted men shouted "injustice" as their relatives supposedly attacked journalists. It was also said that a woman involved in one of the case began to cry out of relief upon hearing the verdicts.

Some question if the sentencing was too harsh for the crime. The 16-year-old defendant received a 20-year prison sentence and a 19-year-old defendant received two 20-year terms of imprisonment. A prominent Egyptian activist and lawyer Gamal Eid told Reuters, “This ruling gives a strong message to all harassers that their actions are no longer tolerated or accepted ... But the ruling on the teenagers was a bit harsh and could have been reduced.” But, Nashaat Agha, a lawyer for one of the victims defended the rulings saying, “This verdict is pure justice and the least that those people can get for the crimes they committed.”

The majority of the assaults happened in June during street celebrations of the inauguration of President Sisi. Most other reported assaults also happened at mass celebrations. One of the men sentenced to life received separate charges of attacking women. He assaulted women at only a celebration for the inauguration of President Sisi, and also at a celebration for the anniversary of the overthrow of despotic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. With the upcoming celebrations for the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, it will test if these convictions can deter sexual assaults.

However, legislating against sexual assaults has yet to transform the public perception of the crime. Dalia Abd el-Hameed, a co-founder of Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment, a movement that combats gang sexual assaults believes that the social view of sexual assaults is most important saying to The New York Times, "The most important thing is the social component," she said. "If something is criminalized by law, but society accepts it, it will continue happening."

The government is taking special action to change people's attitude towards sexual assault in addition to the newly adopted laws. It was reported by The Guardian that officials proposed rewarding screenwriters who produce "female-friendly television shows". Also, they reported that a female television presenter was suspended after she mockingly laughed at Tahrir victims when they were brought up by her co-presenter. She defended the attackers saying they were just "happy", according to Reuters.

That being said, the governmental action being taken against sexual offenders in Egypt is confronting their overlooked sexual assault issue. El-Hameed told The New York Times she believed that the sentences are a “good step to end the state of impunity that perpetrators enjoyed.”

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

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Woman Stripped Naked, Beaten by Mob in Tahrir Square

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 07:45 p.m. DST, 11 June 2014

"حسنا" Photo by: Andrea Volpini

CAIRO, Egypt -- The inauguration of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday, 8 June, was a cause for celebration and excitement throughout much of Egypt. But hours after the commencement of al-Sisi's presidency, the festivities turned violent. Several women were sexually assaulted and battered in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.

Since Sunday, nine men have been arrested in connection to the string of assaults. The mob targeted at least five women, surrounding and sexually assaulting them. The torture proved extremely serious; four of the women were transported to the hospital after the vicious attacks.

The violent crowd of men surrounded a range of women, including one pregnant Egyptian, and a mother who had been enjoying the Tahrir Square scene with her daughter before the mob encircled and violated her.

The criminals moved through the square with relative impunity, stripping one woman completely naked and lacerating her. The attack went on far too long before police were able to separate her from the mob. According to reports, the security officers threatened to discharge their weapons, but no shots were fired.

Today, 11 June, women responded to the series of attacks that followed Sunday's inauguration, gathering in Tahrir Square as a statement of solidarity and resilience. Sexual assault has become commonplace in Tahrir Square, especially during the massive protests in 2011 and 2013 that saw President Mubarak and President Morsi removed from office. Women who demonstrated during this pivotal political time were often silenced through sexual assault, which at the time was not a punishable crime in Egypt.

A study published by the United Nations finds that 9 out of 10 Egyptian women have been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted or raped.

Thursday of last week, 5 June, new legislation was implemented by the provisional government to protect women from sexual assault, and hold perpetrators responsible for the first time in Egyptian history. Advocates of the measure hope that it will curtail the growing problem.

Tahrir Square has become very much a symbol of Egyptian liberty and self-determination, as men and women took to Tahrir Square during instrumental demonstrations in 2011 and 2013, to speak out against governments that did not represent their best interest.

It is my hope that the continuing protests, aimed at promoting gender equality and safeguards for Egypt's women, will be as revolutionary as the demonstrations for political reform in 2011 and 2013.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Canadian Gang Rape Victim Takes Life

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 00:35 a.m. DST, 20 April 2013

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, Canadian Rape Victim Commits Suicide

NOVA SCOTIA, Canada - Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old girl from Canada, died in the hospital after her family took her off life-support. Prior to being disconnected, she languished in a comatose state for three days after trying to commit suicide by hanging herself in her bathroom.

The family's ordeal began a year and a half earlier, when sadly, Rehtaeh became the latest young woman to have her life tragically derailed by four teenage classmates who decided to gang-rape her then posts the photos across social media venues. After the November 2011 assault, which Rehtaeh then 15-years-old, hid out of shame and only reported days later, her life spiraled out of control.

Beset with bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts, she was further victimized by being branded as a 'slut,' by the boys, utilizing an oft used excuse presented by rapists to claim that the woman was somehow complicit in her sexual assault. As with other rape victims, Rehtaeh was victimized initially by the perpetrators, then by the police who reportedly investigated her case, but determined that it was a case of "he said, she said," and thus could not be effectively prosecuted.

The final insult came when the photos of the gang-rape went viral, and the Cole Harbour High School student found herself the victim of repeated bullying at school as well as being “suddenly shunned by almost everyone she knew.”

“She was never left alone. She had to leave the community. Her friends turned against her. People harassed her. Boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking her asking her to have sex with them. It just never stopped,” her mother told CBC.

According to the Huffington Post, Parsons was placed on life support on 4 April 2013, and died on Sunday, 7 April 2013, after her family decided to take her off the life-support.

CBC, a Canadian news outlet, reported the rape occurred at a small social event. Teenagers were provided with alcohol, which prompted underage drinking. According to reports, a teenage boy took photos of Parsons having sex with another teen boy, and then sent it to friends.

Parsons family believes the victim is no longer alive because of the actions of the young boys. According to the Huffington Post, Parsons mother, Leah Parsons, expressed her feelings on a Facebook page in memory of Rehtaeh, stating her daughter had been forced out of the community and harassed after the incident occurred. Leah Parsons wrote, “Rehtaeh is gone today because of the hour boys that thought raping a 15-year-old girl was okay, and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun…”

Sources stated the bullying got so bad, the family was forced to relocate after the photo was sent to countless classmates and peers.

The family attempted to file criminal charges; however, police told them little would be done due to lack of evidence. Authorities would only go speak with the males and make sure they knew they were wrong. Parsons mother expressed how she took the police’s actions as a slap in the face.

The Huffington Post reports, although Parsons was a minor at the time of the alleged rape, the defendants could claim they didn’t know she was a minor because she was so close to the legal age limit to engage in sex with a partner that is of age.

The harassment lasted long after the incident. The victim’s mother described males messaging the girl on Facebook, asking her to have sex with them. She also described the disrespectful text messages her daughter received. The incident left Parsons with psychological and emotional effects that stemmed from the alleged rape. Parsons suffered from depression, and even decided to check herself into a hospital when she began having suicidal thoughts in March 2012.

But, ultimately, it was a climate of continued sexual harassment and abuse, anonymous cyber-bullying, as well an apparent disinterest by law enforcement to remedy her predicament that led to this tragic outcome. In addition to these player, the community from which she fled in an attempt to rebuild her life, is also complicit in her death because they seemed to prefer to sweep this incident beneath the rug of their collective consciousness rather than demand that the perpetrators face justice.

Unlike the recent, Steubenville, Ohio rape case in which the media expressed more sympathy for the perpetrators than the victim, which resulted in vociferous and swift public outcry, Rehtaeh Parsons had no such allies, and thus suffered in silence until she took the final and irrevocable step of ending her life.

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India Enacts Tougher New Anti-Rape Laws

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 18:25 p.m. DST, 29 March 2013

India's Aam Aadmi Party Protest Rape EpidemicINDIA - In response to the 2012 Delhi rape gang case, the government in India set up a panel called the Justice Verma Committee headed by a retired judge to recommend legal reform and other ways to reduce sexual violence, reports BBC.

A bill containing harsher punishments for violence against women passed in early March, and Karuna Nundy, a leading Indian Supreme Court lawyer, explained to BBC how the laws work.

Nundy says that the new laws consist of a combination of thinking about gender and existing patriarchal attitudes, and those ingrained in the colonial Indian Penal Code of 1860.

The bill defined several actions as crimes: stalking, intimidating, murder, acid violence, disrobing, and voyeurism. Additionally, the bill clarifies that in rape; the absence of a physical struggle does not indicate that the actions were consensual.

One of the major reasons why crimes against women aren’t reported is because police would refuse to register the complaints, says Nundy. The bill would give compulsory jail time to those who fail to register complaints.

Healthcare providers must provide survivors of sexual violence or acid attacks free and immediate medical care.

There are increased jail terms and the potentiality for the death penalty in a repeat offense or rape that causes coma. If evidence demonstrates that the death penalty is not a deterrent for committing crimes as Nundy claims, then what is the alternative punishment?

Nundy is further concerned with the lack of expansion of the criminal justice system. Speedy trials are supposed to be the best in prosecuting crimes against women, Nundy says, and it is unclear how fast these trials will be. Offenders may attempt to drag on the trial process for a long time, which would cause the victim much hardship. Additionally, Nundy says “there’s also a concern that if sentences are thought of as too harsh by judges, the already high acquittal rate in cases of sexual violence will rise further.”

Under this bill, consensual intercourse between teenagers aged 16-18 is considered rape. The boy involved can be sentenced to up to three-years in prison, and labeled as a rapist.

The new laws fail to protect men and transgender from rape. The cultural attitudes in India can help explain this failure to protect transgender.

According to the Taipei Times and the Global Post, transgender face heavy discrimination. The Taipei Times reports that homosexuality is accepted, however, straying from cultural perceptions of femininity or masculinity leads to prosecution. The transgender communities in India, known as hjaris, have been prevented from obtaining decent education and jobs and housing, reports the Global Post.

Marital rape is still legal. According to the India RealTime, in Indian culture, the husband has the right to intercourse whenever he pleases. Activists have called for laws that would allow women to press charges against their husbands, but this has yet to be addressed.

Armed forces in “disturbed areas” are still effectively immune from the prosecution of rape and sexual assault. The Hindustan Times reports that in many instances, an offender from the armed forces will try to take their trial to civilian courts because the trial can take years. In contrast, in military courts, prosecution can come swiftly and the punishment can be much more severe.

Though the laws fail to address several important areas, the laws represent an important step in the change in laws and attitudes in India.

Follow Alex Hamasaki on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Student Intern: @aghamasaki

CNN: Silent Running on Call to Retract Sympathy For Steubenville Rapists

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 01:00 a.m. DST, 23 March 2013

Trent Mays, Steubenville, OH Rape Victim

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - Two high school football players, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were found guilty of raping a heavily intoxicated 16-year old girl in Steubenville, Ohio last August. According to CNN reports, the victim was noticeably intoxicated as the rape occurred. Although the two teens were found guilty early this week, it is interesting to hear how the media has responded to the controversial case.

Adam Mordecai, a contributor to Upworthy news site, suggests CNN focused more on the convicted rapists rather than the victim. On the Upworthy site, Mordecai lists the gist of the statements made as the press somewhat sympathized with the football players. CNN correspondents made at least six statements in reference to the teen boys’  “impressive resumes”, altered decisions as an effect of underage drinking, bravery, and more. One statement even mentioned the reporter felt the boys’ lives will be harder after they are convicted.

It becomes shocking when the media defends men for raping a young woman. The boys were aware of what was going on. Not only have they destroyed their futures, but they scarred a young woman for eternity. Although teens will be teens, there is no excuse for what these teens have done. The media has been insensitive to the victim as well as her family. It seems as if the media is behind the teens, hoping they recover and are less concerned about the victim.

Candy Crowley, a journalist for CNN, stated on air, “I cannot imagine how emotional the sentencing must have been....a 16-year-old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16-year-olds. What is the lasting effect of two young men being found guilty in juvenile court essentially of rape?"

Poppy Carlow, a CNN reporter, said outside the courtroom after the sentencing, “It was incredibly difficult to watch as these two young men who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watch as they believed their lives fell apart.”

Another CNN correspondent, “Paul Callan”, said “There's always that moment of justice when lives are destroyed. But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law. That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

According to the Huffington Post, CNN reported a statement from the victim’s mother who said the verdicts are “the start of a new beginning for my daughter. We need to stress the importance of helping those in need and to stand up for what is right.” It doesn’t seem as though CNN has taken her advice.

The teen girl was highly sedated and practically unconscious when Mays and Richmond were performing the ruthless sexual acts. Reports read Mays was given a longer sentence because he released photos through text messages, of the rape.

Recollection of that night was given by numerous teen witnesses. According to an unidentified witness, the girl was seen hunched over and violently vomiting. She was then seen sitting in the middle of the street where the party was located. She was ridiculed and eventually left there for the time being.

When questioned in the court room, teen witnesses clearly showed they were unaware of the definition of rape. When asked why they didn’t stop the rape, a teen witness responded “It wasn’t violent”, insinuating it was only considered rape if they were forcing themselves on the female. The male witness that gave this respond also stated he walked in the room during the time the victim was being violated. He could see she was unresponsive to the acts, however, he did not stop it.

Earlier that night, teens witnessed Richmond and Mays in the back seat of a car with the 16-year-old female. Video of the setting was obtained by police, where they saw Richmond and Mays fondling the girl and passing the video camera around.

Even with increased public outcry and pressure on the network, CNN has remained silent on its original stance of focusing more on the perpetrators than the victim. Richmond received a minimum of one year in a youth correctional institution, but is eligible to receive a longer sentence. Mays receive one year for the rape and an additional year as well. Both boys will have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, and can remain incarcerated until they turn 21.

UPDATE 26.3.13: As Editor-in-Chief it was my decision to publish the article with the selected title. The substance of the article is about the fact that CNN should have focused more on the victim than on the perpetrators.

In the ensuing controversy CNN and other media outlets no longer continue to solicit sympathy for the perpetrators, but for many it is not enough. A verbal, written retraction is being sought via a petition; however, whether this occurs or not, CNN has retreated into silence on this issue.

We appreciate all constructive criticism, but personal attacks are unwelcome. The title and post have been edited to clarify our position.

Thank you, Ayanna Nahmias Editor-in-Chief **********************************************

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Swiss Tourist Gang Raped in India

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Alex Hamasaki, Student InternLast Modified: 01:02 a.m. DST, 21 March 2013

BicyclingAroundTheWorld.comMADHYA PRADESH, India - Indian police officials have arrested several men suspected of raping a Swiss woman in the Madhya Pradesh state. The exact number of men has been disputed across several news sources, the numbers ranging between three and seven suspects.

A Swiss couple was cycling along central Indian tourist trail on Friday to the city of Agra. According to the Washington Post, the couple pitched a tent in the jungle off the highway and was camping overnight when a group of men attacked them. The men raped the wife, beat the husband, and stole a cell phone and some cash from the couple.

Aljazeera says the local police official MS Dhodee claimed that six men have reportedly confessed to the crime. CNN reports that the confessions are not admissible in court and can be retracted because they were in police custody.

Dilip Arya, deputy inspector of general police, told Reuters that the group of men would go before a magistrate on Monday.

The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern stated that they “are deeply shocked by this tragic incident suffered by a Swiss citizen and her partner in India.”

Officials in India have reacted otherwise. The Washington Post reports that the state’s home minister Uma Shankar Gupta shifted the blame to the foreign tourists for not following tourist rules.

Gupta said, “What happened is unfortunate for our nation. When foreign tourists come, they should inform the (superintendent of police) about their plans. This is the system but it is not being followed.”

The police in India further said that the Swiss couple was in an unsafe area when the attack occurred. R.K. Gurgar, the police station chief in Datia, commented that the couple were in an area where no one could hear them, and that they should have stayed at a nearby village or taken shelter at a school.

The Washington Post reports that Madhya Pradesh has the highest incidence of rapes in the country with over nine reported daily.

There have been calls by human rights groups and the public for stricter laws regarding sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women. These events serve as a painful reminder of another sexual battery case, the horrific 2012 Delhi gang rape case.

In December, a 23-year old woman was beaten and gang raped on a bus while she was traveling with a male companion. The young woman later died of her severe wounds in a hospital in Singapore. Her death caused widespread national and international coverage and was condemned by several women’s’ groups. Public protests were held against the Government of India and Delhi for not providing women adequate security.

Though no country or people can be held responsible for the reprehensible acts of a few, the increased number of violent gang rapes which have recently plagued India speaks to a larger problem which has yet to be addressed. At its core is a cultural disposition in which a woman's right to self-determination, safety, and justice are seemingly of secondary concern to those of men.

As if to highlight this, The Washington Post reported that in New Delhi alone, there have been over 150 reported cases of rape in the first 45 days of 2013.

CNN reports that India’s home affairs minister appointed a panel as a result of the Swiss couple case. The panel criticized Indian attitudes toward sexual assault and called for policy changes, including the punishment of 20-years in jail if convicted of gang rape. Further, the panel suggested that it should be a crime if police officers fail to investigate sexual assault, as well as making it illegal to consider the victim’s character or previous sexual experience of the victim at the trial.

UPDATED: Thursday, 21 March 2013

Associated Press journalist, Ravi Nessman, reported 4 hours ago that "India's Parliament passed a sweeping new law Thursday to protect women against sexual violence in response to a fatal December gang rape and beating of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi.

The new law, which still requires the president's signature before it becomes official, makes stalking, voyeurism and sexual harassment a crime. It also provides for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim's death. The law also makes it a crime for police officers to refuse to open cases when they receive complaints of sexual attacks." Read Associated Press Article Here

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Dominique Strauss-Khan | Sex Addict, Pimp

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Original post date: 21 May 2011Last Modified: 20:44 PM EDT, 26 March 2012
 
Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been charged in France with “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring.
 

Dominique Strauss-Kahn bat le bitumePARIS, France - When the media reported on the attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) it seemed strange that they referred to the victim as a chambermaid.

The assignation of this descriptor to the rape victim in the 21st century was incongruous.  A fact that must have been noticed as  the media in subsequent coverage began to refer to her as a cleaning women. In this country and in particular within the hospitality industry cleaning women are invisible.

Cleaning is an honorable job and many hard-working individuals have raised their children  by virtue of working in this industry; and thus afforded them the opportunity to move into the professional arena.  As with previous  groups, the first generation often provided the platform upon which subsequent generations built.

Most people however, have utterly no regard and in some cases disdain for these industrious individuals.  Because of their disdain they rarely grant these workers consideration nor acknowledgement as fellow human being.  Strauss-Kahn displayed a disregard for this Muslim woman's humanity as he sought to use her for his base desires.

When I heard about the 'chambermaid' from Guinea who despite the shame this accusation could cause her, displayed uncommon courage in reporting the attempted rape, I was proud of her.  It took a lot for a woman of "such low station" to resist and then report this attempted rape by such a 'powerful' man.  Because of her courage the authorities were able to apprehend Strauss-Kahn as he tried to flee the country.

The fact that this would be rapist had the audacity to attack a woman is unconscionable but it is even more shameful that he would dishonor this Muslim woman by attempting to touch her at all.  Orthodox Muslim, Jewish and Christian women are prohibited from touching or being touched by a man other than her husband.  Such an act would be considered totally inappropriate and one against which they would vigilantly guard.

Strauss-Kahn, was a likely candidate for the presidency of France and thus befitted the station of an aristocrat.  He has since resigned his position at the IMF and in the days following his high-profile arrest this baronial figure was released on a $1 million  dollar bond and sentenced to house arrest.

Without a doubt this is yet another example of one rule of justice for the rich and another for the poor.  The reason that I referred to Strauss-Kahn as a baron is because of his imperious nature and the air of entitlement that he projects.  A baron is one name for a nobleman of the middle ages.  In the middles ages the legal system that existed was feudalism.  Within this system the Upper Class of which barons were a part, ruled their fiefdoms with tyranny and injustice.

These fiefdoms contained large swaths of land which were farmed by the lower classes who were referred to as peasants or serfs.  Either free, slaves or indentured servants, their lives were one of hardship, misery and fear.  The feudal lords had absolute dominion over every aspect of their lives.  In fact, a lord could rape any peasant woman without fear of reprisal and often their husbands were powerless to stop the defilement.

The reason that I chose to refer to the victim as a charwoman is because it is term as equally incongruous to our century as is chambermaid.  The definition of a charwoman is, "quite literally, a woman who does ‘chores’. Already by the 15th century it had connotations of menial or household jobs: ‘making the beds and such other chares’." (Source: Word-Origins)

My friend who is from Trinidad and Tobago told me a saying from her country which I believe is totally apropos here - "every hog has it Saturday."  It means that each time the butcher goes to get a hog for slaughter the other pigs squeal (it seems with delight) that it is not them.  But their turn is coming and some Saturday they will adorn a table as the main course of a meal; and so it is with Dominique Strauss-Kahn.  His Saturday has come.

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