Sheera Frenkel reports: Jehad Safwat pulls her headscarf tight and presses her hands deep into her belly when she talks about the virginity tests she underwent last month in Egyptian detention.
The 21-year-old medical student was arrested at a Dec. 28 rally organized by Muslim Brotherhood supporters at Cairo University. For nearly two weeks she was held in detention, mostly at Cairo’s Azkabia police station, where she says she was forced to submit to virginity and pregnancy tests that police conducted at a medical facility nearby. When she was finally released, police filed no formal charges against her — and handed her the bill for her “treatments.” Safwat was one of four women who spoke with BuzzFeed about undergoing forced virginity and pregnancy tests at the hands of the Egyptian security services.
The Egyptian army, which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-led government last year and has effectively ruled the country since, promised to ban the tests after it emerged that more than a dozen women arrested during the 2011 protests in Tahrir Square had been forced to submit to them. It hasn’t, and the doctors arrested for performing the tests were acquitted when they brought to trial a year later.
Now, the tests are back. After more than a year in which human rights activists say that police refrained from carrying out virginity tests, or employing the types of harsh interrogation methods regularly associated with the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak, reports have resurfaced of police brutality against both men and women. It’s the final sign, activists say, that the police state is fully back. [Continue reading…]