2-10-2012By Rasika Teredesai
Human Rights Defenders
Justice may still be out of reach for the victims of the Egyptian military’s “virginity testing,” an abusive practice targeting activists who bravely participated in the revolution. On Tuesday, during the trial of an army physician being tried for “testing” protestors, female prison wardens were called as witnesses but denied they had seen it take place. So despite the recent court-ordered ban on the practice, impunity for perpetrators continues.
Assaults on female activists in Egypt show the disconnect between the aspirations of last year’s revolution and its results. Though Mubarak was ousted, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) continues to abuse and harass women.
Egypt remains a dangerous place for female activists, who regularly face violence ranging from street harassment to rape. But they refuse to be quiet.
Marches in response to the “virginity testing” trials and the brutal public beating of the “blue bra” woman are challenging government and society, garnering international attention, and forcing discussion. The military has in the past tried to justify their persecution of female activists by calling them prostitutes, but the number and diversity of these women clearly counter this characterization.
What more can we do to ensure that women are not victims of, but participants in, the new Egypt? In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on March 8th, Human Rights First will highlight the achievements of women defenders. We are also planning peer-to-peer exchanges between Nazra for Feminist Studies and other regional female activists who have experienced struggles in their work. And as co-sponsors of International Anti-Street Harassment Week, we’re encouraging female activists to raise their voices by participating in anti-harassment initiatives, such as, HarassMap.org.
The women of Egypt will not be silenced, and the revolution cannot be a success until their mistreatment ends.