Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Egyptian Post-Mubarak Military Council vs. Egyptian Women Who Protest: Beatings, Torture, "Virginity Tests"

The Associated Press in a Washington Post article reports that activists and bloggers are pressing Egypt’s military rulers to investigate accusations of serious abuses against protesters, including claims that soldiers subjected female detainees to so-called “virginity tests.” (DITHOB notes that while the focus in the mainstream media has been on the "virginity tests" which thenmselves are a primitive, loathsome action, these also have been followed by beatings, torture/electric shocks and "suspended" prison sentences by the Egyptian military of the women who were detailed/arrested.)


AP reports that bloggers say they will hold a day of online protest Wednesday to voice their outrage, adding to criticism of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took control of the country from ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February."

In the face of the criticism, four journalists along with a prominent blogger were summoned for questioning by the military prosecutor, according to a rights group. They were released without charges."


Hossam al-Hamalawy, the blogger, tweeted: “The visit to the military prosecutor became a chat, where they wanted clarifications for my accusations.”

The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters and the army intervened forcefully to clear the square."

One woman who was arrested spoke out about her treatment, and Amnesty International further documented the abuse allegations in a report that found 18 female detainees were threatened with prostitution charges and forced to undergo virginity tests. They were also beaten up and given electric shocks, the report said."

Egypt’s military rulers have 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 Feb. 11, 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 military council denied soldiers attacked protesters at the March 9 rally. But one general used a news conference to make negative remarks about women who mingle with men during the sit-ins and suggested lewd acts were taking place in protest camps.

“There were girls with young men in one tent. Is this rational? There were drugs; pay attention!” Gen. Ismail Etman, the council spokesman, said at the end of March.

"One of the women arrested, Salwa al-Husseini, gave a detailed account at a news conference in March of her treatment and said she was made to undergo a virginity test.She said she was slapped in the face and subjected to electric shocks in her legs before being taken to a military prison.

“When we went to the military prison, me and the girls, we were placed in a room with two doors and a window. The two doors were wide open,” she said. “The girl takes off all her clothes to be searched while there were cameras outside filming to fabricate prostitution charges against us later on,” she added.

“The girl who says she is single, she undergoes a test by someone; we don’t know if he is a soldier or some kid on their behalf,” she said.

Amnesty said in its report that one of the women told her jailers she was a virgin but was beaten and given electric shocks when the test supposedly proved otherwise."
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, in a statement Tuesday, said that the questioning of journalists or bloggers was an attempt to silence critics and create “an atmosphere of fear.” It warned: “The military council is committing a grave mistake if it continues to shut the mouths of those criticizing it. The council is not made up of angels.”

Full article here

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