A “virginity test” to protest? Women have endured a great deal to speak up for themselves and demand fair and equal treatment around the world. And right now there is a ruthless campaign in Egypt to shame and frighten women who dare to demonstrate for their rights.
As part of that campaign of intimidation, women arrested during a peaceful protest in Tahrir Square were recently forced to submit to “virginity tests.” Not only that, they were beaten, given electric shocks, strip searched while male soldiers photographed them, and then subjected to invasive physical exams. All this because they were continuing to demand an end to sexual assault and a place in the “new” regime that they helped bring about.
Egyptian women were at the forefront of the protests that led to President Mubarak’s resignation. But now that Egyptian men have their freedom they want to keep Egyptian women from getting theirs. It was bad enough that there were “0”, nada, zip, zero women on the “panel of experts” (meaning men) that wrote the new constitution. But now women are being actively targeted when they demonstrate for equal rights.
But “detain and dishonor” is only part of the campaign to put Egyptian women back in their place and make them too afraid to demand fair treatment and equal rights. Women have been victims of a series of sexual attacks around Tahrir Square leading up to the second anniversary of the uprising. And, true to form, the official response has been to BLAME THE VICTIMS!
A video posted by the owner of an Egyptian television station declared that women protesters had gone to Tahrir Square because they wanted to be raped (Unbelievable!). He stated that they were “devils” who had made their hair fuzzy and untidy (I guess seeing a woman’s hair will drive Egyptian men insane!). Then this time-honored, reliable strategy was made official when the Upper House of Parliament said the full blame rested with the protesters – NOT THEIR ATTACKERS!
It’s not really surprising that the government and the military are trying to blunt the demands of the 2011 uprising by targeting women. But Amnesty International reports that Egyptian women are not running back to their homes in fear. Instead they are standing tall and demanding their rights. They are pushing back by exposing sexual violence in Egypt, and continuing to speak out, demonstrate, and protest for equal protections and equal opportunities in the new Egypt. (1)
Women have been attacked, jailed, raped, fired and more for speaking up for their rights and demanding to be treated like human beings for thousands of years. But if enough of us continue to support and speak up for EVE (Every Vagina on Earth), there’s not enough “manpower” in the world to stop us. Plus there are a great many whole men supporting us!