Saturday, April 7, 2012

Egypt: Military Impunity for Violence Against Women

Whitewash in Virginity Tests Trial

Human Rights Watch
April 7, 2012

"(New York) – The March 11 acquittal of the only military officer charged in the “virginity tests” trial is a blow for any hopes of accountability for the abuses women have experienced at the hands of the Egyptian military over the past year, Human Rights Watch said today. The military has failed to investigate and punish credible claims of other instances of violence by its members against women, including the beating and torture of women demonstrators by military officers on March 9 and December 16, 2011.

The investigation and trial in the case, in which female protesters who had been detained testified that a military doctor subjected them to “virginity testing,” underscore the lack of independence of the military justice system in trying such cases, Human Rights Watch said. The military prosecutor summoned no witnesses for the prosecution to establish the charges under which he had referred the case to court, nor did he challenge apparently factually inconsistent testimony by defense witnesses. Despite clear statements from senior military leaders that the incident had taken place, the trial did not examine who, and at what rank, ordered the tests.

“The verdict in the ’virginity tests’ trial is just one more example of the military’s failure to punish gross abuses against women and a reminder that the military justice system lacks the fundamental independence to remedy human rights abuses by the military,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch......"

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