CAIRO – Thousands of Egyptians – workers, youth, political figures, scholars, farmers and other activists – gathered over the weekend with aims of preserving the revolution.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which obtained power following an eighteen-day rebellion that saw the ouster of long-time authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak, has come under scrutiny for continued detention of political activists and alleged rights abuses.
The human dignities of Egyptian women were before and during the uprising a target by the corrupt military and police state. In early March seventeen women were reportedly kidnapped and subjected to tests that would prove whether or not their virginity was still in tact.
Twenty-nine year old Rania, not her real name, is an unmarried social worker who was arrested on March 9th after returning to Tahrir Square around noon upon running errands like paying her university fees.
“I was beaten, my hands tied behind my back and called a prostitute,” says Rania. “At night the real problems began. The army took us on a bus and took pictures of us and very brutally beaten.”
According to Rania, the army targeted her because she was the most vocal, spat in their faces and challenged them. After spending the night on the bus in Madinet Nasr, Rania and several other women were subjected to virginity test to determine whether or not the army could charge them with prostitution.
“The prison guard stripped us and was beating us with hoses. Then the female guard told us that girls will be examined and women won’t. I was examined for my virginity by a man wearing a white coat.”
Twenty-five year old Samira Ibrahim Mohamed from Upper Egypt, who was dragged away from Tahrir Square on the afternoon of March 9th after members of the army and men in plainclothes attacked and arbitrarily detained demonstrators, recounts a similar story.
“Despite being electrocuted, fed kerosene-soaked food, insulted and tortured the most humiliating moment was when me and ten other women were stripped and forcibly examined to determine whether we were virgins,” says Samira.
Traditionally, in the Arab world the sexual behaviour of women have played a pivotal role in maintaining or destroying a family’s honour.
In order to maintain one’s social life, men would resort to killings in the name of honour if a female family was accused of sexual misconduct as a means of restoring disgraced male family members social standing in the community.
This latest weapon against pro-democracy demonstrators in a bid to intimidate and silence the uprisings’ voice could foster a return to the streets as alleged reports of continued detention and torture of activists continue to plague the military who were once seen as being with the people.
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