- Middle East/North Africa
Military judicial chief Major General Adel al-Morsy dismissed as false rumors that women arrested during Abbasseya protests last week were sexually harassed by security forces or forced to undergo virginity tests.
“The females were referred to the military prosecution without investigations by the authorities who arrested them while they were assaulting security forces at the Defense Ministry,” Morsy said in an interview with CBC satellite channel on Wednesday, according to state-run news agency MENA.
In an ominous statement, Morsy called on the women to come forward and file a complaint so that their allegations could be investigated, but said they would be subject to relevant legal punishment if their accusations are proven false, according to MENA.
He also said some women who make such accusations are motivated by a desire to be in the limelight or harm the reputation of the armed forces.
Clashes at the Abbasseya demonstration prompted the arrests of more than 300 people, including more than a dozen women, according to the Associated Press.
Rights activist Aida Seif al-Dawla said that female prison guards sexually assaulted some women by inspecting their vaginas under the pretext of searching for drugs, AP reported.
One woman also testified before Parliament's Human Rights Committee about the alleged abuses she suffered when she was arrested.
But Morsy said female detainees were sent to civilian women’s prisons, not military prisons.
Last year, a military doctor accused of conducting virginity tests on female protesters was acquitted by a military court. Although military leaders acknowledged such tests were carried out, they said they did not order them.
An administrative court later ruled in December that conducting such tests on women in the custody of the military is illegal.
Morsy said military prison bylaws do not have any provisions that allow virginity tests to be carried out and detainees can only be referred to a medical specialist upon their own request.
The general added that the Public Prosecution is investigating incidents that took place before Friday at the Abbasseya demonstration, while the military is investigating Friday's clashes. He emphasized that the violence falls under military judicial jurisdiction as 200 armed forces members were injured and one died while securing the Defense Ministry.
He said women and journalists who were imprisoned pending investigations have been released, adding, though, that this does not indicate their innocence, MENA reported.
The Union of Revolutionary Youth on Wednesday called for an immediate investigation into rumors that security authorities threatened to conduct virginity tests on arrested women. In a statement published Wednesday, the union said it would be a “catastrophe” if the military had once again conducted such tests on female protesters.
A female physician who was arrested by military police on Friday said women were assaulted and threatened with physical harm and that men were beaten after their clothes were taken off.
Anas Ahmed, a student who was injured during the clashes and is receiving treatment at Qobba Military Hospital, said military police stopped him and two nurses on Friday and harassed one of the nurses, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. He alleged that they threatened to conduct virginity tests on the women. However, a first lieutenant ordered that they be left alone, he said.