Conflict & Justice

Female protesters allege assault by Egyptian military


An Egyptian protestor holds a picture of Samira Ibrahim, an Egyptian woman who brought the case against an army doctor, Ahmed Adel, accused of conducting forced 'virginity tests' on female protestors, during a demonstration in solidarity with Ibrahim in Cairo on March 16, 2012.



It's been more than a year since Samira Ibrahim was tortured in an Egyptian police facility in an attempt to determine whether or not she was a virgin. Despite the ruling military's promises to discontinue the procedure of "virginity testing" following Samira's court victory in December, female protesters continue to be subjected to invasive procedures that are indistinguishable from sexual assualt. 

The AP reports that more charges of assault were made by more than a dozen female protesters arrested last weekend after a protest at the Defense Ministry in Cairo. Military and prison personnel are accused of inspecting vaginas not because they were looking for virgins – this time they were allegedly looking for drugs, says rights activist Aida Seif al-Dawla.

In June of last year, Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), promised international rights organization Amnesty International that female protesters would not be subjected to forced virginity tests in the future and the practice was officially banned in December.

According to televised testimony this week by Aya Kamal, who endured harassment as the hands of troops when she was under arrest, "They insulted us girls, they opened the windows (of the van) and tried to reach out to touch our bodies and harass us. We were threatened with sexual assault, and we were threatened that if any one of us opened her mouth, she would be thrown to the soldiers outside, and she knows what would happen to her."

Some women allege that they were sexually assaulted, not just threatened, but the Egyptian military isn't taking it lying down. 

Military judicial chief Major General Adel al-Morsy has called the allegations "false rumors" and that "some women who make such accusations are motivated by a desire to be in the limelight or harm the reputation of the armed forces," according to Egyptian Independent.

These accusations against the military come against a backdrop of renewed violence in Egypt, as the people press the military to step down immediately and hand power to the people. The first round of Egypt's presidential elections are scheduled for later this month. 

For more coverage of the Egyptian revolution, check out GlobalPost's Special Report "The Army, The People."