Egyptian Court Wisely Bans Military's Use Of Virginity Tests

Finally a bit of positive news on the treatment of women protesters in Egypt: today a court issued an order banning those awful virginity tests that were being performed on female detainees after the March 9th protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

One of the women taken into custody, 25-year-old Samira Ibrahim, filed a lawsuit against Egypt's military-led government this summer, claiming she and 17 other women were forced to submit to the test. Ibrahim, who has been the subject of death threats since filing the suit, spoke to CNN about the ruling in her favor:

Justice has been served today. These tests are a crime and also do not comply with the constitution, which states equality between men and woman. I will not give up my rights as a woman or a human being.

Things have changed significantly since the protesters originally made accusations of abuse in March. The military first denied ever administering the virginity tests to detainees—who reported being beaten, strip-searched, and told that if they didn't pass the virginity "test," they'd be charged as prostitutes. Then in May an Egyptian general admitted that, in fact, the tests had been done, but instead of apologizing, he attempted to justify their use.

Now the banning of virginity tests on detainees represents a major step forward. However, there is still a long way to go. As Aly Hassan, a judicial consultant affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, explained to CNN, this ruling doesn't criminalize these tests across the board:

Those tests are not considered a crime or else the file would be in the Criminal Court. It's the circumstances of the alleged test that may be in question here.

So, in other words, there may be other circumstances in which Egyptian officials would still be permitted to administer them. But at least now, thanks to Samira Ibrahim's case, the military will no longer be allowed to perform these heinous virginity tests in military prisons or on women who've been temporarily detained.

Egyptian court rules against virginity tests [CNN]