Egypt court ends virginity tests

Tue, Dec 27, 2011, 00:00

An Egyptian civilian court ordered the army today to end forced virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons after a women who said she was victim raised a case against it.

However, the head of Military Judicial Authority said in a statement carried by state news agency MENA that the ruling could not be executed because there was no decision to force virginity tests on detainees and if someone did it then it would be an individual act that required criminal investigation.

The military rulers who replaced deposed president Hosni Mubarak in February have come under mounting pressure from activists who criticise them for mismanaging the transition to civilian rule and violating the human rights of protesters.

This is the second case in a week where civilian activists have obtained a favourable ruling in cases involving the army.

"The court orders that the execution of the procedure of virginity tests on girls inside military prisons be stopped," Judge Aly Fekry, head of the Cairo Administrative Court, said.

The case was filed by Samira Ibrahim, a woman who said the army forced her and six other women to undergo virginity tests in March after they were arrested during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

On Sunday, another civilian judge ordered the release of a prominent blogger whom the army had detained in October on charges of "inciting violence and sabotage" during a protest by Christians.

An army official was quoted in May as saying the tests were carried out so that the military would not later be accused of having raped the detainees.

Ibrahim, who comes from the conservative southern Egyptian city of Sohag, was transferred to a military court four days after her arrest.

She received a one-year suspended prison sentence for insulting authorities, participating in an unauthorised assembly and breaking a curfew.

She filed a case with the military prosecution against the soldier who carried out the virginity test, and the military judiciary was now handling the case.

"We demand that those who committed this act be held accountable," said Basma Zahran, a lawyer from El-Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence who joined Ibrahim's case.

A military judicial official said last week that cases of reported forced virginity tests had been transferred to the Supreme Military Court and that military personnel accused of taking part in violent clashes and human rights violations against protesters would be prosecuted.