Even after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, there were reports of at least 18 female protesters being subjected to so-called "virginity tests" by military authorities. One official explained that they had to make sure the women had already had sex, because otherwise they could have accused the officers of sexual assault (according to his twisted logic, only virgins can be raped). Now one of the victims is suing the military for sexually assaulting her, in the hope that she can prevent other women from being subjected to these "tests," which Amnesty International classify as torture.
25-year-old Samira Ibrahim was arrested with other protesters in Tahrir Square on March 9. She and the 17 other women in the group were taken away in police vans, then told to sort themselves into a line for virgins and another for non-virgins. Ibrahim tells GlobalPost:
"In the virginity test case, I was forced to take off my clothes in front of military officials ... Secondly, the person that conducted the test was an officer, not a doctor. He had his hand stuck in me for about five minutes. He made me lose my virginity. Every time I think of this, I don't know what to tell you, I feel awful. I don't know how to describe it to you ... I know that to violate a woman in that way was considered rape ... I felt like I had been raped."
Several of the other victims have spoken out against the men who violated them, but most are afraid they'll be attacked again by authorities. The military claims it's conducting its own internal investigation into the incident, but Ibrahim is the only woman to file a lawsuit in Egypt's civil court over the virginity tests. Her case is supposed to go before the court on Tuesday, but she's been warned that it could be postponed while the courts deal with cases releated to the upcoming parliamentary election.
In addition to being uncommonly brave herself, both of Ibrahim's parents are unusually supportive of their daughter standing up to the military. Her father, a former political activist who was jailed when Mubarak was in control, says:
"She's so much like me in her nature, so much like me. If we're doing the right thing, then we shouldn't be scared ... She has the right to file that lawsuit and demand her rights ... But you know, I'm skeptical of the judicial system."
He isn't alone. Even Ibrahim's lawyer says their chances of winning the case aren't good. However, Ibrahim says that she won't give up even if the case fails, and is even willing to go to the United Nations. "If any woman is violated and she files a lawsuit against her perpetrators, then this is going to eventually stop," she says. "And they're not going to put pressure on political activists by threatening to violate their wives or daughters."
Egypt: Samira V. The Military [GlobalPost]