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Egypt’s virginity test trial postponed as plaintiff takes stand

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An Egyptian military court has postponed the case against military doctors accused of conducting virginity tests on detained women, including female activist Samira Ibrahim.

The case has been postponed until Mar.11for the second time after a hearing of military doctors’ testimonies was delayed earlier this month.

The stalled proceedings have added to the roller-coaster experience Ibrahim has undergone since first filing the case against the military doctors months ago following reports that women held in military custody were subjected to virginity tests.

On Sunday, the court heard the doctor’s defense, despite that the session supposed to be devoted to hearing Ibrahim’s witnesses, according to online news website Bikya Masr.

Ibrahim is the plaintiff in the case. She is one out of a dozen women who were subjected to virginity tests after being detained for taking part in sit-ins and protests earlier this year.

“The prison warden has denied conducting such tests on female detainees,” Ibrahim’s lawyer Ahmed Hossam told Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm. “But we are summoning other doctors who were not investigated by the prosecution.”

In light of the proceeding, Ibrahim told Bikya Masr that a lawsuit was brought against her for “destruction of public property” and other charges.

Ibrahim said she had only recently received the legal notification and she and her lawyer were looking into the matter.

Two female prison guards gave their testimonies in the last session, saying that the tests were in fact merely a question of “who is married and who is a virgin.”

The women said it was out of “medical concern” for the arrested women in case one of them was “pregnant,” Bikya Masr reported, adding that the doctor had never ordered any woman to take off her clothes, but asked them verbally who was and was not a virgin.

According to the guards, the detained women were only asked to stand in two lines, one for those who are virgins and one for non-virgins.

But the women who underwent the tests argued that they were forced, in front of dozens of other soldiers, to remove their clothing and allow a doctor to examine them.

Ibrahim said that when she asked for the procedure to be done in private, she was assaulted.

In December, an Egyptian court forced virginity tests be stopped on female detainees in military prisons after Ibrahim first filed her case.

“The court orders that the execution of the procedure of virginity tests on girls inside military prisons be stopped,” said Judge Aly Fekry, head of Cairo Administrative court.

The verdict was met with cries of joy and applause by dozens of rights activists who attended the hearing.

During this time, Ibrahim gained support across Egypt. She was met by scores of supporters when attending the December hearing.

A march was also organized for protesters wishing to show admiration for her stance against the military.

Meanwhile, local rights groups are now criticizing the apparent protection of military members from any accountability over crimes committed against civilians, calling for greater justice.

(Written by Eman El-shenawi)