For the first time, Egyptian military officials are admitting that women who took part in the protests in Tahir Square were forced to take “virginity tests.” Though many aid groups have decried the practice, officials have been largely silent about it until now.
According to The Associated Press:
Maj. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a member of the military council ruling Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, justified the tests as a way to protect the army from rape allegations, Amnesty International said. But the rights watchdog said al-Sisi vowed the military would not conduct such tests in the future. The “virginity test” allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters and the army intervened forcefully to clear the square.
Since Egypt has been turned over to military control until the country is ready for free elections, many of the young people responsible for the anti-Mubarak movement have expressed their discontent with the military’s leadership and slow pace towards democracy.
Amnesty International found 18 women who had been forced to take the so-called “virginity tests.” The group’s secretary general, Salili Shetty, met with the Egyptians’ military council to discuss the matter. Officials claim the tests were to protect members of the army against false allegations of rape by female protesters. Following the meeting, Amnesty issued this statement following the meeting:
“Subjecting women to such degrading procedures hoping to show that they were not raped in detention makes no sense, and was nothing less than torture….The government should now provide reparation to the victims, including medical and psychological support, and apologize to them for their treatment.”