CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s military has vowed to stop virginity tests on female protesters, Amnesty International said on Monday, after a top official said the tests were necessary to head off possible charges of rape.
“The head of Egypt’s military intelligence has promised Amnesty International that the army will no longer carry out forced ‘virginity tests’ after defending their use, during a meeting with the organisation on Sunday,” Amnesty said in a statement.
Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had discussed the issue with Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty.
Sisi is a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power after a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February.
The general was the first identified Egyptian military official to acknowledge that forced virginity tests have taken place.
“He said virginity tests were carried out to protect the army against possible allegations of rape, and added that the army does not intend to detain women again,” an Amnesty statement said on Sunday.
On May 31, Amnesty called on the authorities in Egypt to bring to justice those responsible for forced virginity tests on female protesters, slamming it as “nothing less than torture.”
Amnesty’s statement came after an apparent admission by an unnamed army general to CNN that women detained on March 9 in Cairo’s Tahrir Square had been subjected to virginity tests.
A senior military official on May 31 denied to AFP reports that the army had conducted such tests, saying “these allegations are baseless.”
Amnesty opposes forced virginity tests under any circumstances.
“Sisi said people alleging abuses should complain to the military prosecutor and could also post their complaints on the SCAF Facebook page,” the Amnesty statement said.