Human Rights Voices

While the UN devotes its human rights operations to the demonization of the democratic state of Israel above all others and condemns the United States more often than the vast majority of non-democracies around the world, the voices of real victims around the world must be heard.

Egypt, March 12, 2012

Egyptian virginity test ruling ''a travesty''

Original source

Montreal Gazette

An Egyptian military court on Sunday acquitted an army doctor accused of conducting forced "virginity tests" on female protesters last year, triggering the fury of international human rights groups.

Ahmed Adel was cleared of conducting the test on Samira Ibrahim, who brought the case against him, after the judge found the witness statements to be "contradictory," the official MENA news agency said.

"It's a joke, a theatre," an outraged Samira Ibrahim told AFP after the ruling.

"The fact that the case was in a military court is a disaster," she said.

But Huwayda Mostafa Salem, the lawyer for the defendant, told reporters outside the court: "The case was not strong in the first place. It was brought about due to media pressure." The case had sparked a national outcry and getting it into court was considered a victory for the female protesters who were subjected to the tests and had raised hopes of further trials of those accused of abuse.

Rights watchdogs slammed the verdict as a "travesty" of justice and urged Egypt's military rulers to ensure women never again face "virginity tests."

"The ruling shows how politicized the military justice system is, and the lack of independence there," said Heba Morayef, researcher at Human Rights Watch's North Africa division. "The hope that there will be any accountability for the military will be receding," Morayef told AFP.

Amnesty International said the acquittal "fails women victims of 'virginity tests' " and shows that military courts are "incapable of dealing" with human rights abuse cases. "Once again, the Egyptian military has failed women, particularly those like Samira Ibrahim who have shown tremendous courage in challenging the military establishment in Egypt," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty's Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director.

Last year, on March 9, army officers violently cleared Cairo's Tahrir Square and held at least 18 women in detention.

Women said they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to "virginity tests" and threatened with prostitution charges.

An army general defended the practice at the time saying: "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."