Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Egypt’s virginity test case shows sexual violence, repression continues

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"Maybe Egypt should borrow a mantra from the United States: don’t ask, don’t tell. Egyptians rarely – if ever – ask about crimes against women, so when Samira Ibrahim took her case against the military over being subjected to horrific, unthinkable “virginity tests” in downtown Cairo last March, most in the country turned the other way. They didn’t ask to know about it, and Ibrahim shouldn’t have told, went the thinking.

No women’s organization took up the mantle for justice, freedom, and above all, the right of a woman to not be stripped in front of soldiers and prodded by a doctor over an issue he should have no part in unless he is the woman’s personal physician.

But heroically, Ibrahim kept going. Before the March 4 trial date, we met her at a cafe in downtown Cairo, where she was energetic and open about the case. She wanted what happened to her, only a few hundred meters away from where we were sitting, “to never happen to any woman again.” Except it will. It does. Egypt seems to have a policy that of “let’s get angry for a day, but we won’t do anything” when it comes to sexual violence toward women in the country....."

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