Egyptian court halts virginity tests on female protesters


CAIRO — A Cairo court has ruled against forced virginity tests on female protesters detained in military prisons.

“The court orders that the execution of the procedure
of virginity tests on girls inside military prisons be stopped,” Judge
Ali Fekri, head of the Cairo Administrative Court, announced Tuesday.

The ruling came in the case of Samira Ibrahim, a
woman who sued the Egyptian army for being subjected to a forcible
virginity test in a military prison.

Ibrahim was detained, along with about 20 other
female protesters, when military police’s dispersed protesters in a
March 9 sit-in at Tahrir Square.

Following their release, Ibrahim and fellow protester
Salwa Hosseini told the El Nadim Centre for the Rehabilitation of
Victims of Torture that while in custody they were beaten, given
electric shocks and subjected to strip searches and “virginity checks”
by the military police.

The Tahrir incident in March was the first violent
clash between the army and protesters since the Supreme Council of Armed
Forces took control of Egypt after President’s Hosni Mubarak’s ouster
on Feb.11.

While army leaders issued an apology for the violent
arrests, an army general speaking to CNN on condition of anonymity two
months later did not deny that virginity tests were conducted on female

“We didn’t want them to say that we had sexually
assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins
in the first place,” the general told CNN.

“These were girls who had camped out in tents with
male protesters … and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and
drugs,” he added.

The general’s comments caused a local and
international uproar. Amnesty International condemned the remarks,
describing them as “an utterly perverse justification of a degrading
form of abuse.”

“The women were subjected to nothing less than
torture. Authorities must bring those responsible for ordering or
conducting virginity tests to justice,” the group said in a statement.

After the ruling Tuesday, hundreds of activists who
had attended the court hearing in support of Ibrahim staged a
celebration rally in Tahrir Square.


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