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Raya and Sakina – Egypt’s most infamous female serial killers

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Egypt has always been a land that has been synonymous with violence and bloodshed, even as far back as the days of the Pharaoh’s. Perhaps one of the most violent periods in the country’s long history came between 1919 and 1923, when the Egyptians revolted against the British, who had ordered the exile of Saad Zaghlul and other members of the upstart Wafd Party. These events led to Britain’s reluctant recognition of Egyptian independence, but what went unnoticed during those years were some horrific crimes performed by two very evil ladies, Raya and Sakina.

They used the chaos in the streets as the perfect cover for their criminal activities, and that those were taking place in one of the poorest districts in Alexandria, even less notice was taken by a public more concerned about the state of their nation. The story of those two women has somewhat slipped through the cracks of history, perhaps because it came at a time when Egypt was looking forward to its independent future, and looking to forget its seedier past. What is known is that Raya and Sakina, with the assistance of their spouses, operated a drug and prostitution ring in the Labban district of Alexandria.

Despite the slum appearance of the neighborhood, its proximity to where the British soldiers were based made it prime real estate for the women to set up a series of brothels. The two women lived together after Raya and her husband, Hasaballah, were banished from Kafr Al-Zayyat for smuggling hashish. The sisters and their husband then opened at least 5 different houses of ill repute, but it appeared that was not enough to keep Raya and Sakina happy, and pretty soon, women started to disappear in the vicinity of the Mansheya Square.

In all, 17 different women went missing during the winter that spanned 1920 and 1921, with the common thread being that were all seen wearing a lot of gold and carrying large amounts of money. As the numbers started to climb, authorities finally started to take notice, with many eyewitnesses claiming that they has seen many of the missing women in the company of Sakina shortly before they were reported gone. Despite that connection, the police were unable to come up with concrete evidence that would tie her to the missing women.

There were two events in December of 1920 that brought events to a head, and were finally enough to tie Raya and Sakina to the crimes. The first was the discovery of a dismembered woman lying in the street, very close to a home where a man, digging to find a damaged water pipe, discovered a number of female human remains. Those bodies belonged to the missing women, and it was quickly discovered that Raya and Sakina had been renting that home at the time of the disappearances. The dots had been connected, and the pair, along with their spouses, was sentenced to death in May of 1921. The execution of Raya and Sakina was the first time women had been put to death in modern Egypt.

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