The “tests” were nothing but state-sponsored sexual assaults to terrorize and blackmail protesters, to make an example of them and frighten other women into staying home. The “results” could be used as another way to write off the army’s female opponents as women of ill repute, and set them up for suspicion, ostracism, and potentially even honor killings.
Not that one would expect the military junta to be able to police itself. The Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, was reported earlier to be looking into a deal to grant the military immunity for its crimes against protesters. An update on this story. “Egypt army court acquits doctor over virginity test,” by Marwa Awad and Edmund Blair for Reuters, March 11:
CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian army court acquitted an army doctor on Sunday of forcing a virginity test on a pro-democracy protester, setting back hopes of reining in a military establishment that has cracked down on the movement that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
The case of Samira Ibrahim, who defied taboos in the conservative Muslim country to challenge the military over her treatment in detention, was seen as a test by activists of the army’s pledge to investigate abuses and prosecute culprits.
Welcomed when it took control after Mubarak was ousted last year, the military council has drawn increasingly fierce flak for its handling of protests and the slow pace of reforms.
Instead of responding to the street during the political transition, activists say the army has been busy protecting its broad business interests and shielding soldiers from justice as it prepares to hand power to civilians by July 1.
“The army doctor Ahmed Adel was found not guilty in the case of virginity tests because of conflicting witness accounts,” said a military judicial source, who asked not to be named.
A witness said Ibrahim broke down in tears after the ruling. She had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. Adel, dressed in civilian clothes, welcomed the court’s verdict.
For activists, the ruling casts a cloud over prospects for convicting soldiers accused of abuses ranging from driving over demonstrators in army vehicles in the Maspero district of Cairo in October to beating protesters on the street.
In one notable case, a woman was filmed being dragged and kicked by soldiers during a protest, exposing her underwear.
“I am disappointed but not surprised … This is a reflection of the fact that the military justice system is not an independent justice system and that the military will protect its own,” said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch in Egypt.
She said Ibrahim’s verdict “bodes ill” for the Maspero case which is also before the civilian courts.
No soldiers have been convicted in cases that have been publicized, although thousands of civilians have been hauled before military tribunals during the past year.
The army routinely dismisses charges its courts are biased.
Ibrahim, who was detained in March during a protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, was sentenced by a military court to a one-year suspended prison term for insulting authorities, joining an illegal assembly and breaking a curfew.
Controversy over the virginity tests gathered pace after a general was quoted by CNN last year as saying tests were carried out to prove the women were not virgins when they were detained, so they could not say they were raped in detention….
As Samira Ibrahim described in an earlier account: “The military tortured me, labeled me a prostitute and humiliated me by forcing on me a virginity test conducted by a male doctor where my body was fully exposed while military soldiers watched.”
Sexual assault to “prove” the absence of sexual assault. Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up.