Army doctor cleared of forced virgin tests on Egyptian women

Mon, Mar 12, 2012, 00:00

AN ARMY doctor was yesterday acquitted of carrying out forced “virginity tests” on female protesters in Egypt last year, dealing a blow to activists and the women at the centre of the case.

Ahmed Adel was found not guilty of public indecency by a military court in Cairo. He was accused of performing the tests at a military prison on seven women arrested in Tahrir Square on March 9th, 2011 – nearly a month after the revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak from power.

The presiding judge said there had been contradictions in the witness testimonies of the three women who came forward.

The first woman to file charges, Samira Ibrahim, was outside court when the verdict was announced. Visibly upset, she joined others in chanting against military rule. She later said on Twitter: “Nobody assaulted my honour. It was Egypt’s honour that was assaulted, and I will keep going till the very end to regain its rights.”

Mr Adel was charged with public indecency and disobeying military orders. After the verdict he said the case was only brought because of pressure from the media and foreign organisations such as Amnesty International and Freedom House, whose motives he questioned.

Soha Abdel-Aty, assistant director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, which represents Ms Ibrahim, said she had no expectation of justice and no faith in a military court, as it was not independent. “This is entirely a show to convince public opinion an investigation was conducted,” she said.

Maj Gen Adel al-Mursi, head of the military prosecution, defended the verdict. He said the judge ruled “according to his conscience and in view of the case’s documents”. A march to Cairo’s high court has been called for next Friday to coincide with Egyptian women’s day.

In December, Ms Ibrahim won a case at the Cairo administrative courts that virginity tests were illegal. It was seen as a victory for the women involved and encouraged others to come forward. Straight after that ruling, it was announced that Mr Adel would face a military trial.

Last June, a general admitted in a meeting with Amnesty International that virginity tests had taken place. Maj Gen Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, a member of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said the tests had been conducted to protect the military from any allegations of rape, and that they would not happen again.

Another Egyptian general admitted the examinations and defended them in an anonymous interview with CNN. “The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” he said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found . . . molotov cocktails and [drugs].”– ( Guardianservice)