Military clears army doctor over 'virginity test' on Cairo protesters

Acquittal raises questions over ruling military council's attitude to human rights abuses

Cairo

An Egyptian army doctor, who was the only person to stand trial accused of forcing female protesters to undergo "virginity tests" after demonstrations last year, has been cleared. The verdict outraged activists who say it shows the military council has no intention of prosecuting people accused of committing abuses during its rule.

Samira Ibrahim, 25, fought a lonely battle against the military rulers after alleging that she and six other women were forced to strip naked and undergo an inspection to "test their virginity" after being arrested during a demonstration in March last year, just weeks after President Hosni Mubarak was toppled. Yesterday a military court acquitted the only defendant – Dr Ahmed Adel, who had been accused of public indecency. Judges cited differing witness statements, and denied that any such tests had ever been carried out.

This was despite a previous court ruling in December which established that such inspections had indeed existed. Top generals had also admitted to both the media and Amnesty International that the tests had taken place.

Following the case's collapse, Ms Ibrahim took to Twitter and vowed to continue her fight. "No one stained my honour," she wrote. "The one that had her honour stained is Egypt. I will carry on until I restore Egypt's rights."

The verdict brought widespread condemnation from human rights groups, who accused Egypt's rulers of exploiting the widely derided military court system to conduct a legal whitewash. "This was not an independent judicial body reviewing the conduct of a law enforcement official," said Heba Morayef from Human Rights Watch (HRW), a witness who gave evidence during the trial. "The military will obviously protect its own." Amnesty International called the verdict a "travesty of justice" and said in a statement that it was "further proof that the country's military courts are incapable of dealing with cases involving human rights abuses".

The accusations of degrading treatment of women come amid a slew of incidents which have soured the euphoria of last year's uprising, including alleged abuses of power by Egypt's military, the torture of detainees and the trial of up to 15,000 civilians in military courts.

The "virginity test" accusations surfaced after Ms Ibrahim and 20 other women were arrested during a rally in Tahrir Square last year. The protesters were demanding swifter reform after the military seized power following massive protests demanding an end to Mubarak's three-decade rule.

The women were initially detained in the grounds of the nearby Egyptian Museum, but were later transferred to Cairo's infamous C28 military detention facility along with dozens of male activists. It was here that, according to the women, the virginity testing occurred.

Ms Ibrahim, who was the only one of the seven women to file a case against the military, gave a testimony to HRW describing her alleged ordeal.

"They took us out one by one," she said. "When it was my turn, they took me to a bed in a passageway in front of the cell. There were lots of soldiers and they could see me. A woman prison guard in plain clothes stood at my head and then a man in military uniform examined me with his hand for several minutes. It was painful. He took his time. It was clear he was doing it on purpose to humiliate me."

The women were tried in a military court and then given one year suspended sentences. But defying military orders not to speak publicly about what happened to her, Ms Ibrahim fought back against her tormentors.

Risking the opprobrium of the authorities – but, arguably more worrying, the judgement of conservative Egyptian society – she appeared in a video which detailed the incident and was uploaded on to YouTube.

In contrast to the other victims – one of whom was shunned by her family – Ms Ibrahim was given the full backing of her family, in particular her father.

But yesterday's acquittal appeared to be a significant setback.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own