Military court clears military doctor of forced virginity tests

In a report issued on Friday, Amnesty International’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director, spoke about the “unacceptable episode” in which Egyptian women were arrested for attending a demonstration at Tahrir Square, and forced to undergo “virginity tests*,” which “is nothing less than torture.” Since that day, Sahraoui said, “women protesters have repeatedly faced beatings, torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of Egypt’s army and security forces… The ‘virginity tests’ trial is a rare opportunity for Egypt’s military to signal that torture by the army does not go unpunished and that perpetrators of human rights violations among its ranks will be held to account.”

The verdict handed down Sunday means that torture will go unpunished and its perpetrators  will not be held to account. The court not only cleared a doctor charged with administering the so-called virginity tests, but denied that the tests even took place. This claim flies in the face of statements made by the victim, by the military and the findings of a civilian court. Samira Ibrahim, who filed the complaints, was one of the 17 women who were detained last March in a military jail, where they underwent beatings, electric shocks, and the “virginity tests.”  In June a general in the Egyptian military told Amnesty International that the tests were, indeed, administered. But that was only to protect the military from false rape accusations.  How thoughtful! Especially given how vulnerable the Egyptian army is to civilian complaints.

Upon learning of the verdict, the courageous Samira Ibrahim tweeted “”No one stained my honor. The one that had her honor stained is Egypt. I will carry on until I restore Egypt’s rights.”

Here is a video from   about the acquittal:

And here is a another video of Samira recounting what happened to her:

*While writing this, I kept unintentionally writing “rape” instead of “virginity test.” Of course, that’s because the test is rape. In fact, the doctor was initially tried for rape, but that was dropped and he was ultimately tried for “public indecency” and “disobeying military orders.”


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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