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EGYPT: Woman denies military's claims about 'virginity test'

Salwa

A high-ranking Egyptian military official Wednesday denied reports by CNN the day before that the military had conducted “virginity tests” on female protesters in March, according to Al Ahram newspaper.

An unidentified Egyptian general had told CNN that the military conducted the tests, and said they were justified, to prevent rape allegations. His account confirmed earlier reports by London-based human rights group Amnesty International.

Lm4oo3nc The military official quoted in Al Ahram on Wednesday, who also was not named, called on the media "to practice precision before publishing these accusations, and tarnishing the name of the armed forces with such accusations that seek to cause a rift between the army and the people."

Timeline: Revolution in Egypt

Amnesty International officials reported that some in a group of 18 women detained March 9 in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square were subjected to "virginity tests" as well as beatings, electric shocks and strip searches as male soldiers looked on. This week, they called for an investigation by the Egyptian government into the alleged abuses. Late Wednesday, about 100 people gathered outside a meeting of the country's ruling military council, many hoisting signs calling for the military to address the issue.

One of the women who appeared on CNN, 20-year-old Salwa Hosseini, spoke with Babylon & Beyond on Wednesday about the controversy and what she wants now from the government:

What were you doing in Tahrir Square when you were detained?

I had followed Moustafa [her fiance] to the October 6 bridge. There were gunshots, stones thrown from the bridge, and soldiers. There was a tank on the bridge, and I refused to move. I screamed, "You will have to kill me!" After things calmed down, I found Moustafa and we went back to the square, but a big man with broad shoulders stopped us. I could hear other plainclothes officers all around saying, "She's the one -- arrest her!" They turned me over to the military at the [Egyptian] Museum. This was at 4 p.m.

What happened to Moustafa?

I screamed his name. They arrested him and electroshocked him.

What happened when you were with the soldiers at the museum?

They broke my mobile [phone]. I could not believe that -- I thought the military and the people were one hand. There were 17 girls with me and 174 men. They handcuffed us with plastic handcuffs. We stayed until 7 p.m.

What happened next?

We were taken to the military court. When we were searched, they told us we would be tested [for virginity] and any girl who lied would be taken to court.

What did you think at the time?

I was scared they would lie and tell me I was not a virgin and shock me.

How were you treated by the soldiers?

Soldiers beat me when I told the other women not to be afraid. When we were in the room [holding cell], soldiers were taking photographs. Girls were covering their faces, but I did not cover mine. I said, "Hold up your head, you are Egyptian" [a common protest chant among revolutionaries]. ... The guards called us bastards, prostitutes, they cursed our families.

What about female soldiers?

I was strip-searched by a woman in a room. I asked her to close the window and doors, and she refused. After I was naked, I saw a guard in the window, taking photos. I screamed, and he ran away. Then the woman searching me said she would call the guard to shock me if I kept insisting she close the window and doors.

How was the test conducted?

A man made me take off my underwear and examined me.

Did he touch you?

Yes. He used two fingers.

Was anyone else there?

The virginity test took place in front of guards and military officers.

Did you request a female doctor?

Yes. I wanted a woman, not a man, and not all these men around.

What did the military officers say?

They electroshocked me.

Did all 18 women take the test?

No. They made us sign a document saying we were virgins. About 10 of them did not sign it. One of them lied.

What happened to her?

They tortured her.

How did people react when you first told your story?

People didn't believe us. Some people think the military is like their parents. If this hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't believe it either.

What about now?

Once the military said I was a liar; now they say it happened. They are confused. They don't know what to say.

What do you think of the Egyptian general who said the tests showed all the women detained were not virgins?

I am willing to do the test again so you can see the result.

What about his comment that the tests were justified to prevent you from claiming later that you had been raped in custody?

If that is their rationale, they did this to protect the military, why did they do it in front of men, with a male doctor?

How have people reacted since you spoke out on CNN?

I see the bad comments on Google, people saying things about me. But [in person] everyone is compassionate to me. A lot of women tell me they are happy I said something. They say, "We are all with you." I am surprised other girls who were arrested have not spoken out. Maybe they were threatened.

You received a suspended one-year sentence for protesting, which you are fighting as you also try to clear your name. Have you hired a lawyer?

No. The people are with me and this is stronger than any lawyer.

— Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Nagham Osman in Cairo

Upper photo: Salwa Hosseini, 20, says she was subjected to a "virginity test" by the Egyptian military after she was detained March 9 during post-revolution protests in Tahrir Square. Credit: Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Lower photo: Egyptian activists shout slogans as youths met members of the military council in Cairo on Wednesday. Credit: Khaled Elfiqi / EPA

Comments () | Archives (9)

We will never accept SHARIA LAW IN EGYPT, whether NOW or in the FUTURE? Since when did the Muslim Brotherhood represent the voices of ALL egyptians! Wasn't the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt behind numerous attacks on egyptians and foreign tourists in the past? RELIGION MUST BE SEPERATED FROM STATE. We DEMAND real Democacy, Freedom & Justice, not a new RELIGIOUS REGIME! This military government cannot be trusted. Everyone knows that they are corrupt & are still loyal to the ex-regime. The international community must intervene immediately to restore law and order in egypt.. THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY MUST ACT IMMEDIATELY, IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF PROTECTING EGYPT, BEFORE THERE IS A HUMANATARIAN CRISIS.

Further, thousands of Muslim Extremists have been smuggled into Egypt from Pakistan, Afganistan, including from Hamas, since the Authorities opened its borders with Palestine. WHAT IF, VIOLENCE BREAKS OUT IN THE SINAI PENINSULA OF EGYPT BETWEEN HAMAS EXTREMIST MUSLIMS AND ISRAELI SOLDIERS? The Egyptian authorities have endangered the national security of the country. It is becoming clearer, that the Egyptian Authorities are causing confusion, as they make deals with the Muslim Brotherhood in paving the way for the enforcement of Islamic Sharia Law in Egypt. We are concerned of further persecution of the suffering christian minority in egypt, alike Iraq, Syria and the rest of the middle east.....To note a 12 year old christian boy was beheaded, only weeks ago by muslim extremists in Syria. In another incident, a Christian man was beheaded by muslim extremists in Iraq.

The military council must be dismantled, As you know, they are all part of the ex-regime. Ministers are escaping prosecution in Egypt through misleading egyptians with false facts. Who honestly can believe that they are being prosecuted in egypt! Confusion is intentionally made to divide egyptians. Chaos is the result of using thousands of criminals, including Salafi extremists at large, in attacking egypt's christians.

Obviously, there is a Systematic Genocide of Christians going on all over the Middle East....There will most definitely NEVER be Democracy and Justice with this existing military government that is corrupted by muslim extremists. There are over 12,000 criminals on the loose, which were released by egypt's ex-regime, to seek revenge on the egyptian people. To note, the ex - regime of Mubarak is in giving orders through the governing military arm of the current transitional government. Christian girls are being abducted and raped by criminals through the streets of cairo, churches destroyed, christian properties ransacked and christians murdered. Apparently, over 300 christian girls have been abducted to date and everyday there are new victims.... Recently, a young christian lady (20 years old) that was abducted a month ago in front of a coptic church, was returned naked and murdered in front of the same church. Further, there are thousands of unreported crimes that are being committed. The Egyptian Authorities are not protecting or stopping these ongoing Acts of Terror on innocent civilians

Christians are being falsely accused of crimes that they NEVER committed in EGYPT, for the purpose of SILENCING them. 2 Christians that went to Protect a Coptic Church in Ain Shams, which was under attack by Muslim Extremists in Cairo (EGYPT) were both sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the ruling Military Government.

It has been proven that Non-christians who carry out Acts of Terror on Christian civilians are never punished, convicted or brought to Justice for their Crimes! This is all the work of the Egyptian Military Government through muslim extremist Clerics, whom are inciting hatred and creating chaos all throughout Egypt. The Military Government has threatened to REMOVE the Citizenship of all Coptic Egyptians outside EGYPT in order to SILENCE them, for defending the Human Rights of the Christians in EGYPT. However, we have “NO FEAR” because “GOD IS WITH US”.

@JimiWuzAirborne How can you be relating this to Islam? These "men" obviously know nothing about Islam. Before making such offensive and utterly ignorant remarks, read about Islam, read the Quraan and IF you DO find proof that what these dogs did is an "Islamic tradition" THEN you can come and say what you have to say about it. Thank you.

Virginity tests. Welcome to Sharia law in the 21st century.

Salwa Hosseini you are a strong beautiful Egyptian woman and always be proud of it!! I am not egyptian, but the man I'm marrying is and I was so angry when I heard about the virginity checks on women. WE ARE WOMEN! That is invading our personal body! Completely immoral and I hope those in charge of the virginity tests get in very big trouble. Continue to be strong and faithful :)

I am utterly appalled by this!! Activists here are making charges and hopefully these dogs get what they deserve!

This young lady is a HERO she put up with this abuse and dared to speak. The Egyptian military is no different than all other Arab militaries they are animals just like their leaders.
Hang on people of the middle east the day of freedom and democracy will come.


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