Women protesters made to undergo ‘virginity checks’: Egyptian general

May 31st, 2011 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 31 (IANS) A senior military general of Egypt has admitted that “virginity checks” were carried out on women arrested during a demonstration. It is the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities, CNN.com reported.

The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest.

It was claimed women demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

At that time, one Major Amr Imam said, 17 women had been arrested but he denied allegations of torture or “virginity tests”. But now a senior general, who didn’t wish to be identified, has said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice, the CNN stated.

“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

The virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities, he added.

“We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general said. “None of them were (virgins).”

The demonstration occurred nearly a month after Egypt’s longtime President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

Salwa Hosseini,20, a hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, narrated the way uniformed soldiers mistreated them.

“They wanted to teach us a lesson,” Hosseini said, “They wanted to make us feel that we do not have dignity.”

The treatment got worse, Hosseni said, when she and the 16 other female prisoners were taken to a military detention centre in Heikstep. There, she said, she and several of other female detainees were subjected to a “virginity test”.

“We did not agree for a male doctor to perform the test,” she said. But Hosseini said her captors forced her to comply by threatening her with more stun-gun shocks.

“I was going through a nervous breakdown at that moment,” she recalled. “There was no one standing during the test, except for a woman and the male doctor. But several soldiers were standing behind us watching the backside of the bed. I think they had them standing there as witnesses.”

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