On Monday, cult comedy sensation Wilbur Sargunaraj released a video that was a shade different from the ones he had made before.

How to stop sexual abuse and assault features Sargunaraj interviewing Yasmine El Baramawy, an Egyptian musician, against the backdrop of the pyramids at Giza. El Baramawy has been creating awareness about sexual violence in Egypt since unidentified men gang-raped her in public while she was protesting at Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring in November 2012.

The video, Sargunaraj says, was made for Girl Arise, a campaign in India for women's safety. In tonality it is all of a piece with his other international videos that have a heavy dose of advocacy touched with a dash of the humour that characterised his older work.

In the interview, El Baramawy talks about the need for women to understand that there is no stigma in surviving sexual assault. She and Sargunaraj also speak about how men should direct their energy in more productive directions than assault.

As an artist, Sargunaraj is perhaps best known for his comedy videos, starring himself as a “simple superstar” with a heavy Tamil accent, white shirt and tie, explaining anything from how to wear a sari to how to “stand like Maasai for long time”. His most popular videos so far are How to use Eastern Latrine and a song called Love Marriage.

Over the years, Sargunaraj has been moving away from his initial humorous videos to concerted social messaging. These include videos on cultural quotient and how to wear condoms – explained by a sex worker in Uganda. His next project, Sargunaraj says, will perhaps be on Syrian refugees.

“People say I don’t do crazy stupid videos anymore,” he said, acknowledging the career shift. “I am still talking about a taboo subject – like latrines, rape also is a taboo – but the packaging is different. There is slight humour, but my focus is now to share important stories from common people around the world.”

Speaking up

This video is addressed in particular to Indians. El Baramawy cites protests in India as an inspiration to speak about the attack on her.

Just a month after she was sexually assaulted, a group of men abducted, raped and left for dead a young woman in Delhi. The protests that followed the 2012 Delhi gang rape rippled all the way to Egypt. After seeing demonstrations in India, El Baramawy decided to go public with her own experiences and released a video about it in February 2013.

“I thought I had to talk or this will happen again and again,” El Baramawy said. “When I did that video, I was talking to my society. Then I realised this is an international issue.”

Sargunaraj contacted El Baramawy some months ago while planning a trip to Ethiopia via Egypt. El Baramawy agreed to the interview, remembering the protests in India.

“I want to salute the courage of women in India,” she said. “I know they have a more violent environment than we have in Egypt, so I want to tell them to have patience and persistence. It will take decades for equality.”

El Baramawy holds her oud, a stringed musical instrument, in the video, which she said was closer to normal life. “I thought about this after the interview – in Egyptian culture, music is seen as masculine,” she said. “Female musicians are not common. So it made sense to have the oud in an interview about sexual violence.”

Sargunaraj hopes to take this message to the “next generation”.

“So many people will say that what I’m talking about, I can never stop that and it is an unrealistic ideal,” Sargunaraj said. “I say if we say that and nobody takes action, then it will go on. Some men can be focussed on being physical, always talking Macho, Macho, but they need to understand that respecting and honouring women is true strength and that there is no victory in assault.”