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>> Asharq Al-Awsat


EGYPT: "VIRGINITY TEST" VICTIM TO TAKE CASE TO INT'L COURTS

Asharq Al-Awsat - March 15, 2012

by Essam Fadl

Amid mounting criticism in Egyptian political and judicial circles to the Egyptian military tribunal’s decision to acquit Dr. Ahmed Adel in the “virginity testing” case, Egyptian political activist Samira Ibrahim – who first brought this case to public attention – informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “I have taken the decision to resort to the international courts because this is the only means to obtain my rights.”

Samira Ibrahim brought this case against Dr. Ahmed Adel after she claimed to have undergone a “virginity test” after she was arrested with 17 other women during a demonstration in Tahrir Square last year. Dr. Ahmed Adel was charged with “public indecency” and “disobeying military orders’ after the initial charge of rape had been dropped, however the Egyptian military tribunal found him innocent of all charges, citing “conflicting” witness testimony.

Speaking yesterday, Ibrahim told Asharq Al-Awsat that “if I felt offended during my exposure to a virginity test last year, I felt even more offended following this acquittal.” She described the Egyptian military tribunal’s verdict as “shocking.”

She added “since the issuance of the acquittal, I cannot stop crying…however despite this, I will not surrender my rights and I will use every means available to me to ensure that those who committed this crime against me are held accountable.”

Speaking to the press after the verdict, Ibrahim said “it’s a joke, a theatre” adding “the fact that the case was in a military court is a disaster.”

The Egyptian political activist also stressed that “what happened was not just an offense against me, but a dishonor against all of Egypt and her daughters.”

In addition to this, Dr. Ahmed Adel’s acquittal was also met with anger and dismay from other quarters, and a joint-statement signed by various Egyptian human rights organizations and political groups condemned the Egyptian military tribunal’s ruling.

Amnesty International said this acquittal “fails women victims of ‘virginity tests’” and shows that military courts are “incapable of dealing” with human rights abuse cases.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, said that “once again, the Egyptian military have failed women, particularly those like Samira Ibrahim, who have shown tremendous courage in challenging the military establishment in Egypt.”

She added “this decision is not only a travesty of justice but further proof that cases of human rights abuse by the military should be dealt with in civilian courts.”

16 different Egyptian human rights organizations and political movements signed a joint-statement entitled “The military tribunal’s verdict in the virginity-testing case is not the end of the road”, which stressed that this verdict “opens the door to members of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] being prosecuted internationally…after justice had been exhausted in Egypt.”

This statement added that “the military tribunal approved the official version of events put forward by SCAF, namely that virginity testing did not take place, and this is a version of events that is difficult to believe in the face of compelling evidence that cannot be ignored by an independent tribunal.”

This verdict, that no virginity testing took place, is particularly strange as several SCAF members previously acknowledged that virginity testing had occurred.

The joint-statement asserted that “this ruling was expected, for SCAF has become used to denying its involvement in a number of crimes, and even denying that any crimes took place, as in this case” adding that “the military tribunal’s verdict was the latest addition to a list of violations committed by SCAF since it came to power in Egypt.”

This joint-statement was signed by 16 different organizations, including the 6 April movement, the Egyptian Youth for Justice and Freedom movement, the Egyptian Social Democratic party, the Egyptians against Religion Discrimination movement, the Egyptian Union for Combatting Violence against Women, the Egyptian Coalition of Women’s Organizations and the El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, amongst others.

The statement also revealed that 4 witness testimonies had been presented to the Egyptian military tribunal that virginity testing had been carried out on female detainees, and that this was a “routine” procedure carried out to protect the Egyptian military against false accusations of rape.

This statement stressed that “we have sufficient evidence and witness testimonies to prove this crime took place, but we require a real, independent and just tribunal to bring this case to trial…not a [judicial] body affiliated to the Ministry of Defense which itself is implicated in the crime.”





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