Egypt's first female ship captain Marwa Elselehdar was at the centre of a fake news campaign that blamed her for bringing one of the world's most strategic shipping routes, the Suez Canal, to a halt, a BBC report said. But when reports of the container ship Ever Given being wedged across the Suez Canal emerged, 29-year-old Elselehdar was on duty hundreds of miles away in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
"I was shocked," she said, according to the report. "I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field or because I'm Egyptian, but I'm not sure," she added.
Elselehdar is among the 2 per cent of the world's women seafarers, the report said. "People in our society still don't accept the idea of girls working in the sea away from their families for a long time. But when you do what you love, it is not necessary for you to seek the approval of everyone," she said.
Screenshots of a fake news headline and a doctored image picked from a news story released on March 22, which profiles Elselehdar, were doing the rounds on social media, paving the way to the rumours that she was involved in the Suez incident.
"This fake article was in English so it spread in other countries. I tried so hard to negate what was in the article because it was affecting my reputation and all the efforts I exerted to be where I am now," she said.
Traffic congestion that affected trade across the world was caused as a result of the skyscraper-sized container ship being stuck in the Suez Canal. More than 300 ships were waiting to pass the Suez Canal, many with animals as cargo, as rescue efforts were on for almost a week. The ship was freed on March 29 and the world's commerce resumed its course after the traffic cleared to a large extent on April 3.