Monday, June 27, 2011

Egypt: Humiliating Virginity Tests Performed On Female Protesters

Female protester in Tahrir Square, photo by MAHMUD HAMS

From Denny: It turns out the Egyptian peoples' hope that the Egyptian Army would be an honest and respectful government broker is an illusion as this country transitions to a democracy Middle Eastern style.

Early on as the protesters agreed to talks with the Egyptian Army to take over as a transitional government it was the protesters who sidelined women and women's rights. That's when they lost this blogger as an advocate for I saw it as just more of the same cultural garbage women are expected to tolerate, especially in the Middle East.

Now more ugly news out of the Arab world. Is it any surprise that women are yet again treated to more degrading acts of cruelty and humiliation? I am very disappointed in this protest movement. What good is freedom if you hold captive over half of your population, declaring them unfit for leadership or the rights to make their own decisions?

The latest torture perpetrated upon female protesters is a virginity test to prove their innocence and worthiness as a human being. They are lucky they are not in America for I would take a baseball to them for trying to touch me in that manner - and so would most American women.

Are you ready for the lame excuse as to why the ruling military council member, Army Maj. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, gives as a reason as to why this is so important to do? He claims it's to protect his soldiers from rape allegations, according to Amnesty International today.

This is an outrage. And who will protect the women from this new version of torture and privacy intrusion? Well, at least the Army has finally admitted to this practice, verifying what female protesters have been reporting for some time. Of course, at the moment, al-Sisi is saying the military will no longer conduct these virginity tests in the future.

Yeah? Let's see if his word is any good a few months from now when the media's attention has turned to another news story. I, for one, will be watching and watching closely to see he keeps his word.

When did the virginity test reports first surface? It was back during the 9 March 2011 rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square that turned violent. Men in plain clothes - probably Army without uniforms - attacked the protesters. It was then the uniformed Army intervened to forcefully clear the area.

According to Amnesty International at least 18 women who were detained that day said they were forced to undergo the virginity tests.

From Amnesty International Secretary General, Salil Shetty, who met with the military council: "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."

At the moment, the youth movement that sold out women's rights once they met to form the transitional government, is now critical of the generals in charge. They are upset at the slow pace to get Egypt to a functioning democracy.

Well, if you want a real democracy then you all had better get back on track the women's rights issues and fast. Otherwise, no one will trust you when you get in power because they will figure you are just as despicable as these generals you oppose now.

And, if you want help, and news coverage from journalists like me, then get busy and be honorable toward the women and their suffering  Demand the current military council government make a public apology to the women and their families along with reparations.

Currently, critics are unhappy with the military crackdown on continuing peaceful protests. They claim the new government has been unsuccessful in restoring security and unwilling to begin a national political dialogue to steer the country toward democracy.

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