Court orders military violence against women protesters to end
An Egyptian court ruled Tuesday that the military violated human rights of female Tahrir Square demonstrators by subjecting them to ”virginity tests” intended to humiliate them at a military prison.
”The military tortured me, labeled me a prostitute and humiliated me by forcing on me a virginity test conducted by a male doctor where my body was fully exposed while military soldiers watched,” said Samira Ibrahim.
Ms. Ibrahim was one of seven women subjected to a virginity test after being arrested in Tahrir Square during a protest on March 9.
”These acts involve deliberate humiliation and intentional insult to women participating in protests,” the court said in its ruling.
The court called the military’s conduct of the virginity tests ”a criminal offence.”
The court decision was the first one thus far to address the military’s first crackdowns on protesters, on March 9, less than a month after it seized power with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
On Dec. 20, thousands of Egyptian women marched and chanted in Cairo in protest of the treatment of female demonstrators in Tahrir Square.
“Drag me, strip me, my brothers’ blood will cover me! Where is the field marshal? The girls of Egypt are here,” chanted the largest gathering of female demonstrators at the square to date.
The New York Times reported on that protest:
“The protest’s scale stunned even feminists here. In Egypt’s stiffly patriarchal culture, previous attempts to organize women’s events in Tahrir Square during this year’s protests almost always fizzled or, in one case in March, ended in the physical harassment of a small group of women by a larger crowd of men.
“’It was amazing the number of women that came out from all over the place,’ said Zeinab Abul-Magd, a historian who has studied women’s activism here. ‘I expected fewer than 300.’”
Nadya Khalife from Human Rights Watch said last week, “Images of military and police who strip, grope, and beat protesters have horrified the world and brought into sharp focus the sexual brutality Egyptian women face in public life.
“At this crucial stage in Egypt’s history, women need to be able to take part in demonstrations and elections without fear.
Khalife stated, “Security forces'” disgraceful attacks and the government’s broader failure to address sexual violence and harassment do not bode well for Egypt’s women.”
Ms. Ibrahim, the only one among the seven women violated with virginity tests who filed a formal sexual assault complaint with the military prosecutor, told Human Rights Watch that she has received threatening anonymous phone calls.
New York Times