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Egypt court orders stop to forced virginity tests

Cairo Administrative Court on Tuesday ordered the Egyptian Army to end its practice of performing forced virginity tests on female detainees. Samira Ibrahim brought the case against the Egyptian Army after she was arrested during a protest and was forced to submit to a virginity test [Al Jazeera report]. Judge Aly Fekry, head of the Court, delivered the order to stop the procedure of virginity tests on woman inside military prisons. However, the head of military intelligence, Adel Mursi, said that the ruling is essentially meaningless because there are no orders in the military to conduct such tests. Yet, there are reports to the contrary that Egyptian Army Generals have acknowledged the practice and have presented it as a means to avoid rape allegations from the women who are being detained. The forced virginity tests have been condemned by human rights organizations including Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. AI called upon the Egyptian government [AI report] to investigate the practice after other women protesters had come forward with allegations about forced virginity tests.

Forced virginity testing is not the only act that has been controversial in Egypt concerning protests. Egyptian authorities have also been accused of using excessive violence. In November, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay condemned the violent clashes [JURIST report] between Egyptian security forces and protesters and called for an independent investigation into the situation. Pillay "urge[d] the Egyptian authorities to end the clearly excessive use of force against protestors in Tahrir square and elsewhere in the country, including the apparent improper use of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition." AI has also accused Egyptian officials of violating human rights [JURIST report] including abuse of protesters and journalists who voice their dissatisfaction with the government. All of these acts stem from a protest [JURIST report] that took place in November in which over 50,000 people gathered to decry the military's contented rule over the nation.

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