AN EGYPTIAN GENERAL has confirmed reports that ‘virginity tests’ were conducted on female protesters, following weeks of denials by the country’s military.
In the weeks following the 9 March protest, Amnesty International published a report that alleged women had been beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.
Despite previous denials that such events had taken place, a senior general has now admitted that ‘virginity tests’ were conducted – and also defended the practice – to CNN.
“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),” he said.
“We didn’t want them to say (the military) had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place,” the general continued. “None of them were (virgins).”
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took control of the country from ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February, has come under heavy criticism from the youth protest movement, which is upset at the pace of reforms that they hope will lead Egypt to democracy.
Since Mubarak’s fall on 11 February, the military has led crackdowns on peaceful protests, and critics accuse it of failing to restore security in the streets or launch serious national dialogue on a clear path forward for Egypt.
The council says it will return the country to civilian rule after elections later this year, but some Egyptians fear the revolution that began on 25 January has replaced the autocratic Mubarak with a military dictatorship. They point to what they say are attempts by the council to make any criticism of the military an untouchable taboo.
On Tuesday, the military prosecutor questioned a prominent blogger, Hossam al-Hamalawy, after he criticized the ruling military council in a TV talk show.
Additional reporting by the AP