We just do not how good we have it here in the U.S. until you hear how female protesters are treated in Egypt in the 21st century. It's more akin to the medieval ages, even amid peaceful protests aimed at democratic reform. A senior Egyptian general has reportedly admitted that female protesters were arrested and given "virginity checks" during the protests earlier this year.
This is in addition to Amnesty International reports that women protesters alleged that they were beaten, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, given electric shocks, threatened with prostitution charges, and forced to submit to said ‘virginity checks.’
So what of these forced medical exams that violated these women? These exams, in essence medical rape, at least in my mind, were supposedly performed to protect soldiers from being accused of raping them in the first place.
Yes, medical rape was used to protect male soldiers from being accused of rape.
Because we all know that women who (gasp) have been sexually active can't be raped, right? Is anyone else feeling sick to their stomach? Holding their daughter closer? Thanking their lucky stars they weren't given a forced pelvic exam when they went to their last political gathering?
It only gets worse. This senior general also told CNN:
The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine...These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).
Again, gasp! How dare they!
Amnesty International has a different perspective. "Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women. All members of the medical profession must refuse to take part in such so-called tests."
The general, who asked not to be identified, continued:
We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins in the first place. None of them were (virgins).
One of the alleged victims, 20-year-old Salwa Hosseini, feels the only purpose of these checks with male doctors and male soldiers looking on as supposed witnesses was to, "Teach us a lesson...they wanted to make us feel that we do not have dignity."
I have to agree. Even if not, does anyone else wonder if the women were not virgins because they possibly could have just been raped? Did I miss the memo where being a virgin was a pre-condition of being raped? The logic behind these exams and what they purport to prove, simply fails me. The handover to a civil government cannot come soon enough.
In the meantime, let's not let the Egyptian Army get away with this. Let's continue to shout out to the world that mistreating women, stripping their dignity, and violating their bodies is not and never will be okay.
Image via by ~Aphrodite/Flickr