A senior Egyptian general has reportedly admitted that women arrested at a demonstration earlier this year were subjected to “virginity checks,” saying that the practice was necessary to protect soldiers from accusations of rape.
“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 unidentified general told CNN. “None of them were.”
Egyptian military officials had previously denied allegations that soldiers had conducted the "virginity tests" on women detained during a protest in Tahrir Square that occured nearly a month after Egypt’s longtime president, Hosni Mubarak, stepped down.
The allegations first surfaced in an Amnesty International report published in the aftermath of the March 9 protest. The report claimed that in addition to the virginity checks, a number of female demonstrators were also beaten, strip-searched, and threatened with prostitution charges.
More cringe-worthy comments from the general:
“The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” he told CNN. “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).”
CNN spoke with one of the women named in the Amnesty report, Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser, after the allegations first surfaced. Her take:
"They wanted to teach us a lesson," Hosseini said. "They wanted to make us feel that we do not have dignity."