“Virginity Tests” Forced On Egyptian Women Protesters

Although Egypt’s popular revolution was inspiring because, as Judy Molland wrote a few weeks ago, women were a “strong, defiant force” in the revolt that toppled the Mubarak regime, some information is now filtering out that makes it clear that women protesters were still subject to some fairly horrible, sexist treatment.

Amnesty International is now condemning the treatment of at least 18 women who were held in military detention after being arrested during a protest on March 9 (a month after Mubarak stepped down).  The women told Amnesty International that they were beaten, given electric shocks, and subjected to strip searches while being photographed.  They were then forced to submit to “virginity tests” and told that if they were “found not to be virgins,” they could be charged with prostitution.

“The army officers tried to further humiliate the women,” an Amnesty International report explained, “by allowing men to watch and photograph what was happening, with the implicit threat that the women could be at further risk of harm if the photographs were made public.”

The fact that protesters were being tortured is bad enough, but the way that this torture was specifically gendered is particularly horrifying.  This seems to have been a pattern during the protests in Egypt, despite women’s courage in participating openly in the revolt.  CBS reporter Lara Logan was brutally assaulted during the protests, and many other womenhave reported sexual harassment and verbal abuse.

Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi reacted with outrage, saying that “[Egyptian women] are furious. We participated in every part of the revolution, and then as soon as it ended we were completely isolated.”

And if these allegations are true, women are right to be angry.  They were active and integral participants in the struggle against an oppressive regime–to be reduced, once again, to second-class citizens is more than these protesters will stand for.

Sign here to protest the treatment of these women:
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This post originally appeared on Care2.com.

Photo from Flickr user Kodak Agfa under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. The following behaviour from the Egyptian military is outrageous and should be stopped as well as punished with a long prison sentence or even a life one. No single examination can reveal weather a person is a vergin or not. How can the women who took part in the protest charges as sex workers if not vergins. They could also be sex workers clients. I am a women and I have had sex with a female sex worker. The misconception that only men can be sex workers' clients is deeply wrong. Many a woman uses sex workers services nowdays.

  2. The use of sex as a weapon of war against women is evil, to say the least. Women's Agencies globally need to lobby vigorously to have this recognised.

  3. Really, is anyone surprised by this treatment of women in Egypt? Did anyone think this "revolution" would make a difference for women? It is despicable and yes, torture, it needs to be stopped, but this wasn't the revolution that was going to do it. Anyone who really thought so was very naive.

  4. Please support these oppressed women and sign this petition. http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/03/23/virgin

  5. How DISGUSTING!!! What the hell is wrong with these people?! Be strong Women – You are the absolutely right in your convictions and actions for equality!!

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