The Egyptian military may have just hit a disturbing, new low: at least 18 women who were arrested during a peaceful protest in Tahrir Square on March 9 said they were forced to take "virginity tests".
Those women were threatened with charges of prostitution if they "failed" the tests. One woman, who said she was a virgin but whose test supposedly proved otherwise, was beaten and given electric shocks. Make no doubt about it, this constitutes torture. The purpose of this test is to degrade women because they are women. This treatment is unacceptable.
Twenty-year-old Salwa Hosseini told Amnesty interviewers that she was subjected to strip searches while male soldiers watched and took pictures.
These allegations fuel rising concerns that women, who were at the forefront of the protests that led to President Mubarak's resignation, are being forced into the background in the development of a new Egypt.
The protests that began on January 25th did not occur so that Egypt could replace the shocking and degrading behavior by one regime with that of another.
Call for an immediate investigation into the forced 'virginity testing' and other acts of torture and ill-treatment committed against women in Egypt. Egyptian women will not be left behind. They stood up then to demand an end to the repression. We stand with them now to demand justice.
- Sec. of State
I am writing you about the serious allegations that women protesters taken into police custody after protests in Egypt in early March 2011 were tortured and forced to submit to ‘virginity checks.’ I urge you to intervene immediately and ask Egyptian authorities to investigate these shocking reports and stop this degrading treatment of women protesters.
After army officers violently cleared the square of protesters on March 9, at least 18 women were held in military detention. Amnesty International has been told by women protesters that they were beaten, given electric shocks, and subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges. ‘Virginity tests’ are a form of torture when they are forced or coerced.
Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women.
The Egyptian authorities must halt the shocking and degrading treatment of women protesters. Women fully participated in bringing change in Egypt and should not be punished for their activism. All security and army forces must be clearly instructed that torture and other ill-treatment, including forced ‘virginity tests’, will no longer be tolerated, and will be fully investigated. Those found responsible for such acts must be brought to justice and the courageous women who denounced such abuses be protected from reprisals.
I urge you send a strong message to the governing Egyptian Military Council to immediately stop this practice and bring those responsible military officers to face charges. I also urge you make a strong public statement condemning this act and to instruct the US Embassy in Egypt for a report on this practice.
Amnesty International USA started this petition with a single signature, and now has 13,640 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.