On this day two years ago, March 9th 2011, seven women were forced to undergo ‘virginity tests’ by the Egyptian army after they were arrested during a protest in Tahrir Square. The tests were allegedly carried out to protect the soldiers from claims of rape.
The women were also beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, and videotaped by the soldiers. Below is a video of Samira Ibrahim, the only one among the seven women to file a formal sexual assault complaint.
She said in an interview with Al Jazeera: “If a man tells you to take your clothes off and puts his hand up into your private area and leaves it there for five minutes, this is sexual aggression.”
The link below shows a dubbed interview with Ms Ibrahim and more examples portraying the brutality of the armed forces against women.
On December 27, 2011, Ms Ibrahim won a civilian court ruling that affirmed the tests were taking place at military jails. A Cairo court made a decision to stop “virginity test” being carried out in these prisons.
Salwa Hosseini, 20, another victim of these checks told Amnesty International that she was arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep where she was forced to strip and then searched by a female guard. She said that a number of male soldiers were watching her through two open doors and a window and started taking photographs.
Ms Hosseini then went on to describe ‘virginity tests’ being carried out by a man in a white coat, and that women were threatened with charges if they were found not to be virgins.
One form of ‘virginity checks’ is called the “two-finger test”. This involves testing the laxity of vaginal muscles with fingers. A doctor performs the test by inserting a finger into the female’s vagina to check the level of vaginal laxity, which is used to determine if she is “habituated to sexual intercourse.”
This was two years ago, and I wish I can say that many things have changed for the better since then.
Egyptians celebrating court ruling: