Female protesters in Egypt tortured, subjected to ‘virginity test’: Amnesty

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:54 EDT
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The international human rights group Amnesty International claimed Wednesday that a number of female protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were rounded up by the Egyptian military and tortured recently.

Some women even said they were subjected to a “virginity test” while soldiers looked on and took pictures.

Amnesty said at least 18 different women were subjected to this treatment, first at a military prison, then inside the Cairo Museum.

The women claimed they were beaten and tortured with electric shocks, and one woman who allegedly “failed” her virginity test was reportedly singled out for the worst abuse.

“20-year-old Salwa Hosseini told Amnesty International that after she was arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep, she was made, with the other women, to take off all her clothes to be searched by a female prison guard, in a room with two open doors and a window,” the group explained. “During the strip search, Salwa Hosseini said male soldiers were looking into the room and taking pictures of the naked women.”

All of them were taken on March 9, as the military cleared Tahrir Square of demonstrators.

“Women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt and protest against the government without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment,” Amnesty said in an advisory. “The army officers tried to further humiliate the women by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public.”

The group also demanded that the women not face trial before a military court due to the system’s history of hasty verdicts and allegations of corruption.

Led by journalist Rasha Azeb with the al-Fagr newspaper, the women have filed a lawsuit against Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, demanding that the use of military courts end.

Amnesty added that testimony gathered by the El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence corroborated Azeb’s claims of torture, beatings and sexual abuse.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International was unavailable for comment. Messages left with Egypt’s embassy in Washington, D.C. were not returned.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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