Egypt’s ruling military council will no longer carry out forced “virginity tests” for detained women, a practice the military saw as a protection against possible allegations of rape, Amnesty International reported on Monday.
The council also said that “virginity tests” would not be given to women applying to enter Egypt’s armed forces.
Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), said that ‘virginity tests’ had been carried out on female detainees in March to “protect” the army against possible allegations of rape, but that such forced tests would not be carried out again, according to Amnesty International.
He noted that women seeking to work for the army are required to undertake “virginity tests.”
“The Major General’s comments must translate into unequivocal instructions to army staff that women are never forced to undergo this treatment again in Egypt,” Amnesty International said in a statement obtained by Al Arabiya.
“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.”
When army officers violently cleared Tahrir Square on 9 March–the day after International Women’s Day–17 women were reportedly detained, beaten, prodded with electric shock batons, subjected to strip searches in the presence of male soldiers, forced to submit to “virginity tests,” and threatened with prostitution charges.
The women were brought before a military court on March 11 and released two days later. Several received one-year suspended sentences for charges including disorderly conduct, destroying property, obstructing traffic and possession of weapons.
According to Major General al-Sisi, people alleging human rights abuses at the hands of the army should complain to the military prosecutor, and can also post their complaints on the SCAF Facebook page.
“We are hopeful that Egypt’s 25 January Revolution will ultimately lead to justice for those wronged and mistreated by security forces,” said Amnesty International. “But ultimately what matters are the actions of the Egyptian authorities, not their words.”
(Mustapha Ajbaili, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at Mustapha.email@example.com)