The 7 Types of Women You’ll Find in Egyptian Women’s Prison


I have been emotionally victimized by Segn El Nessa for the past month. The Ramadan series is an overdose of impeccable sorrow and incomparable grief accompanied by the greatest acting I have seen in years in an Egyptian production and a mastermind whose touch shines through, Director Kamla Abou Zikry.

Segn El Nessa highlights the lives of women behind bars and walks us through the reasons why they ended up in prison. It is as equally intriguing for people who have been watching it from day one as it is to people who just happen to catch an episode. The drama is captivating and the amount of heartache we experience while watching puts us in touch with the masochist within.

I had promised myself a long time ago that I wouldn’t get hooked on another show where I am emotionally intertwined with the actors, but I found it inevitable with Segn El Nessa. I constantly find myself analyzing – OK, obsessing over – the women’s stories and words.

Accordingly, I have come up with this list of different types of women you will find in Egyptian women’s prison, according to this brilliant show:


1. The Vengeful Hopeless Romantic


“Ghalia” played by Nelly Karim

If anything brings this type of woman behind bars, it’s love. She loves a man too much, blinded by the naivety often keeping romance company. Unable to see the path she is on clearly, she keeps going until she finds herself behind bars for no reason of her own.

And she’s out for revenge.

In Segn El Nessa, Ghalia delivered her child behind bars, who died as soon as he turned two. This changed everything. Her sole mission in life became avenging her son’s death.

She went from being a naïve sweetheart with small dreams of a man, a house and children, a woman who was everyone’s favorite, to a woman filled with anger and resentment, anxiously waiting to go after the people she blames for her son’s death – the people who forever changed the way the world looks in her eyes.

The Vengeful Hopeless Romantic counts down the days until her release when she can seek her revenge – and she doesn’t mind going behind bars again. She’s made a home out of the concrete walls that are softer than her heart.


2. The Misunderstood Madame


“Dalal” played by Dorra

This woman grew up in a twisted family environment. In Segn El Nessa, Dalal’s mother is very protective and moderately religious, while her aunt is basically a pimp.

In need for money to support herself and her family in the country’s economic state, Dalal’s aunt convinces her to attend a “special party” to see how she likes it. She goes, and even though she doesn’t engage in any illegal activity, she is arrested and sent to court just for being present.

Dalal’s husband divorces her and her mom refuses to give her any support. The Misunderstood Madame is a woman who is forever denied a chance to start over. She would even go the distance and try to kill herself, but that still doesn’t fix anything.

So she adapts to where society had placed her.

Dalal becomes a professional prostitute and later on starts pimping out girls herself. This woman walked into prison the first time in tears, and walked into prison multiple times after as a Madame who simply gave up on having her old life back and decided to love her new one.


3. The Victim of Lifelong Injustice


“Reda” played by Rouby

Perhaps my favorite, this is a complex, layered type. She comes from a difficult background, like the countryside where girls are denied the right to receive education so that they can work and earn money for their brothers to go to school. In her life, she has been wrongly accused, inhumanely beaten and victimized by her circumstances.

Sent to Cairo at a young age by her father to work as a maid for the more fortunate, Reda in Segn El Nessa comes to admire the daughter of the new people she starts to work for. Knowing and seeing very little, Reda wants to become this girl – Daleela.

Meanwhile, Daleela’s approach towards Reda is rather confusing. She is nice to her in person most of the time, lends her clothes and lets her spend time with her, yet makes fun of her accent and the fact that she’s a maid the minute Reda turns away.

It all bottles up inside of Reda, until one day Daleela decides that she has to go. Reda begs Daleela to let her stay, but Daleela is too mean and fed up to change her mind.

Blinded by jealousy, anger and lack of justice in her life, Reda sets Daleela on fire in her sleep.

Reda is sent to prison and executed by hanging in a scene that sent shivers up my spine and tears down my face. Many viewers showed empathy with Reda’s case given the extreme social injustice she’d witnessed in her short life, but all in all, court justice was served and she got what she deserved in this life.


4. The Matriarchal Dealer


“Aziza” played by Salwa Khattab

It must take a brilliant actor and an amazing storyboard to make you fall in love with a drug dealer. This is Aziza’s case in Segn El Nessa. The Matriarchal Dealer does more than sell drugs, she is a wife, a mother to everyone, a best friend and a great listener. She is incredibly supportive and yet everyone fears her. She defines strength in a woman and, in Aziza’s case, weakness in a wife.

Aziza gets sent to prison almost every time her husband is about to get caught to protect him. She loves him more than she loves herself and knows that her love for him is her biggest weakness, but she just won’t say it out loud. She wouldn’t let anyone see that side of her – to the point that she wrongly takes revenge from her husband’s second wife by shoving hot sauce/pepper flakes up her vagina!

And she doesn’t mind spending two more years in prison for it because she believes that it makes her feel better about herself.

When The Matriarchal Dealer, who everyone calls “mom”,  is released from prison, everyone is sad about her departure and everyone shows up to say goodbye.


5. The Prostitute with a Heart of Gold


“Zeinat” played by Nesreen Amin

The Prostitute with a Heart of Gold does not see anything wrong with what she is doing. She believes that prostitutes are the best kind of criminals because they don’t kill or steal or force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do.

Zeinat is a victim thrice in Segn El Nessa. The first time, she has no one to guide her. The second time, her kidney is stolen after she leaves prison to have surgery at a famous hospital by a big surgeon who claims he will remove her kidney stone for free. The third time, she has to report herself to the police so that she can go to jail and receive treatment after failing to receive medical care outside.

Zeinat is nicknamed “Zeinat ele btzawa2 elbanat”; The Prostitute with a Heart of Gold enters prison looking like a doll and eventually turns into a living corpse. Zeinat died on the 29th episode in a heartbreaking scene where the entire prison mourns her death.


6. The Crazy Bi- Mentally Ill One


“Hayat” played by Dunia Maher

The Mentally Ill One is a victim of a society that doesn’t believe in mental illness or receiving help from professionals. Hayat in Segn El Nessa suffers from OCD and Paranoia, convinced that all food and water is poisoned and that everyone is going to harm her kids one way or another.

Her husband doesn’t translate the signs and instead, he brings her an exorcist to get rid of the “evil spirit” inside of her.

Hayat eventually poisons the lunch she’s cooking for herself and her family. They all die, except she’s the only one who survives.

After she’s sent to jail, Hayat starts imagining her husband and talking to him. She believes her kids are in heaven where everyone is good to them and that makes her feel better about the fact that she sent them there herself.


7. The Righteously Guilty One


“Ashgan” played by Heba Abdelghany

There are likely plenty of Righteously Guilty women like Segn El Nessa‘s Ashgan in prison, where the law has to be applied regardless of logic or emotion.

Ashgan walks in on her husband trying to rape her daughter and she automatically finds herself stabbing him to death.

The judge gives her the death sentence even though she was defending her daughter. I’m still hoping for a twist of fate in Ashgan’s case.


Segn El Nessa defines the lines between justice and revenge, but makes me see women behind bars in a new light through their (fictional) stories. I genuinely hope they make a season two for it (that’s my inner masochist speaking).

The drama is enthralling and competes with some of my favorite series, showing us that everyone is one step away from being a criminal. And that everyone is one step away from being a saint.


WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss “Why ‘Segn El Nessa’ is the Leading Series this Ramadan“.