Monday, May 30, 2011

Egypt's "Virginity Checks" - I am Not Making This Up

I try to be open-minded about the cultural values of folks living in other countries.

That said, "virginity checks" performed on protesters seems a bit over-the-top.

Even though the general said it was okay - and even gave a reason.
"Egyptian general admits 'virginity checks' conducted on protesters"
Shahira Amin, For CNN (May 30, 2011)

"A senior Egyptian general admits that 'virginity checks' were performed on women arrested at a demonstration this spring, the first such admission after previous denials by military authorities.

"The allegations arose in an Amnesty International report, published weeks after the March 9 protest. It claimed female demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

"At that time, Maj. Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or 'virginity tests.'

"But now a senior general who asked not to be identified said the virginity tests were conducted and defended the practice.

" 'The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,' the general said. '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).'

"The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn't later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

" '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,' the general said. 'None of them were (virgins).'..."
What impressed me was not the way the women were treated - that seems, sadly, to be not all that uncommon in parts of the Middle East. Anybody who won't be properly submissive to the local boss-man seems to be fair game in some areas.

What impressed me was that the general at first denied that the "virginity checks" were done.

That, to me, hints that perhaps at least some aspects of what he and his merry men were up to was a trifle unorthodox: even by local standards.

As for the "torture?" I suppose that depends on how a person defines the term:
"...Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, described to CNN how uniformed soldiers tied her up on the museum's grounds, forced her to the ground and slapped her, then shocked her with a stun gun while calling her a prostitute.

" 'They wanted to teach us a lesson,' Hosseini said soon after the Amnesty report came out. 'They wanted to make us feel that we do not have dignity.'..."
(CNN)
I'll admit that what Salwa Hosseini went through is a sort of 'he said/she said' situation: although I'm inclined to believe her statement, given what's been going on since Tunisians got fed up with their old-school autocrat.

On the other hand, the hairdresser is still alive, and able to talk. Which isn't always the case after someone is tortured.

Does that make it all better? I don't think so.

Still, it could be worse. In Syria, folks who don't appreciate their leader enough are being killed.

And that's another topic.

Finally, and this is important, note that I wrote "cultural values:" not religious beliefs. I've made the point, fairly often, that quite a bit of what Al Qaeda and the rulers of Sudan insist is "Islam" looks more like anachronistic cultural values and customs to me. (September 24, 2009, September 7, 2009, September 7, 2008)

Somewhat-related posts:
In the news:

2 comments:

louise m said...

They're the same type of people though. Just because they're more ruthless about it over there doesn't make them different, that's just culture. The personality traits are the same.

Brian Gill said...

louise m,

I'm not entirely sure what you mean. "They" might be taken to mean men, Egyptians, people living in the Middle East, people who wear trousers - or something else.

As a result, I'm not at all sure what an appropriate response might be. Thanks for taking the time to comment, though.

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