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Notes from America: The day Egypt lost its virginity - Daily News Egypt

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Notes from America: The day Egypt lost its virginity

By Ahmed Tharwat This is the story of Jihan and Rasha; two young activists whose lives were shattered forever. The story of the forced virginity test that was performed on young Egyptian women activists by military security during the height of the revolution. The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a 9 March, 2011 rally …

Ahmed Tharwat
Ahmed Tharwat

By Ahmed Tharwat

This is the story of Jihan and Rasha; two young activists whose lives were shattered forever. The story of the forced virginity test that was performed on young Egyptian women activists by military security during the height of the revolution.

The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a 9 March, 2011 rally in Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters, and the army forcefully intervened to clear the square. Amnesty International further documented the abuse allegations in a report that found that 18 female detainees were threatened with prostitution charges and forced to undergo virginity tests. They were also beaten up and given electric shocks, the report said.

With the help of activist Karim Reda, I was able to get the phone numbers of two of these young women who had lived the “forced virginity test” ordeal: Rash Abdelrahman, a 28-year-old college student, and Jihan Mahmoud, a 29-year-old social worker.

I called Abdelrahman and said: “I would love to talk to you about the…” I wasn’t sure if I should say virginity test in Arabic in our first conversation, so I asked her: “Can I talk to you about the ordeal with the military?”

She caught my drift. “Ohhh, you mean … ‘Kashf Elozrayah’ [the virginity test],” she said causally. “Sure, give me your number and I will call you back.”

Two days later she called and asked if she could bring her friend, another young lady who was also a victim of the virginity tests.

Rasha and Jihan had never spoke to the media before. Finally, I spotted two young ladies talking, smiling and walking back and forth in front of the café.

Rasha was wearing a stylishly modern hijab, the one that just covers the head, and not the face, and a red dress over her jeans. She had an infectious laugh, and did most of the talking. Jihan was the quiet one; she had stylish short hair, a scarf around her neck, and magnetic deep dark eyes. Her dress was of a rebellious nature.

I first asked them to tell me what actually happened that day in March.

“The military wanted to break us, and humiliate us,” Rasha explained, “and as far as I’m concerned, Tantawi is a war criminal,” she said with a strong voice. “We were there at Tahrir for the general strike; we thought it would be like all other demonstrations,” Rasha added.

“We went to Tahrir, as usual,” Jihan explained, “the day was uneventful.  Later at about 4pm, we found people in plainclothes started attacking us with rocks and Molotov cocktails. I had to get a stick to protect myself.”

Rasha and Jihan talked to me in more detail about their abducted friends, who were taken away to the Egyptian Museum and did not return. They went to find out what was happening. They were surprised to find themselves arrested, beaten, and verbally abused by military security.

“You are whores, decent girls stay home and don’t come to Tahrir,” the officer told them.

“The beating started,” Jihan said. “I told the officer who I had seen before in another confrontation, ‘no matter what you do to me, nothing will break me tonight.’ This was a challenge to him and he wanted to break us.”

“You are my game tonight,” he told Jihan. They tied them to the Egyptian Museum fence, beating them and verbally abusing them. Four hours later, they took them away to the military jail in the Hike-step, a military base in Cairo.

“Once I saw a big picture of Mubarak hanging on the wall of the office, I told myself, this can’t be good,” Rasha remembered.

They took them to a room where the female security guard started frisking them. They complained about the overzealous female security guard.

The female security guard asked them to undress completely.

“I could see the soldiers and officers standing outside watching what is going on inside the room” Jihan said.  “All this was done by our military, the one who claimed they protected the revolution. If it was the security police I would understand it, but this our military. I just got rid of an old corrupt regime, to get this?”

It was late into the night.  They were tired and frustrated, however, holding strong, their morale still high. “They really didn’t think we would be that strong,” Jihan explained. A military physician, Ahmed Adel walked into the room, and without a word had their hymens checked. Later and on 11 March, Adel was declared innocent by a military court.

They suffered together through a long night of beatings and humiliation.  Then the military security took them to the military administrative center where they put Molotov bottles on table on front of them, started taking pictures of them without permission.

“You are taking picture of us, so you can distort our images in your media,’ Jihan told the officer. “This officer did something I will never forget,” Jihan said in a defiant voice.  He kicked me so hard. It was personal, between me and him, not a security issue,” Jihan explained.  Jihan and Rasha believed that the forced virginity tests were planned; it wasn’t just an oversight or mismanagement by a few angry individuals.

“They had higher orders,” Rasha said.  In such a patriarchal society, the military wanted to discredit the young activists and the young revolutionaries’ movement altogether as decadent young troublemakers.

Then Jihan looked at herself and said: “My clothes have to stay on my body until I get my day in court, but in the jail, I was forced to take my clothes off, and forced to have my virginity checked… it is rape, I was raped that day.”

I finally asked both of them how this virginity test ordeal had affected their lives.

Jihan looked at me with her deep dark eyes, smiled and said nothing; until today her look still haunts me. This was their story, the story where two amazing young Egyptian women, exposing the Egyptian military that lost its virginity on that day.


Ahmed Tharwat, Host/Producer of Arab-American Belahdan TV

Freelance writer, blogs at www.ahmediatv.com

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  • twinkle

    The virginity test story was a lie made up by the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists to slander our military. They are all pathological liars. Turning people against one another this what they do.It was also the MB who started shouting down down with military rule in 2011. When Morsi became president he was in the process of creating a proper army parallel to the Egyptian national army

    Ahmed Tharwat what you are doing is called EVIL.
    You are a sick person! Even the timing that you chose to publish this article says a lot about you and your intention.

    . Our military, police and security forces have protected this country. We will be forever grateful to them and for everything they have done.

    Then there are those who are traitors who work against the interest of this country and they slander and make false accusations against our authorities and against the state institutions.

    Egypt has the 13th most powerful military in the world and those who seek to destabilize Egypt are targeting our state institutions and our military. They are trying to do to Egypt what they did to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Palestine They want to destroy our countries one by one. They failed Egypt and now they see this as the one of the few chances left to do so.

    Daily News Egypt is bringing up this story now just like most of the mainstream media is bringing up old stories for inflame the environment here..

    This is utterly disgusting of you Daily News Egypt.

    Remember all these journalists make list of them and be very aware of what they write they work against the interest of Egypt and this is a VERY OBVIOUS ATTEMPT to bring people back onto streets, turn Egyptians against one another and create chaos


    • Anti-American Egyptian

      God Bless you! Really, this is exactly what I’ve been saying for months now. I’ve all but stopped reading DNE and occasionally peruse for comments like yours or solely economic news. Outside that, DNE is utter filth. I recommend you read al tahrir news network. It’s pretty patriotic and usually has good news about Egypt that will put a smile on your face.
      Sometimes that’s what you need after a tough day.
      Leave it to DNE’s low-class authors like Tharwat and Khalifah to turn even good news about Egypt upside down or to blow out of proportion things that were done 4 years ago.
      DNE, you reek of the red, white, and blue more than the red, white and black.

      • twinkle

        God bless you too. It isn’t about patriotic and good news I am looking for. It is about honesty and professionalism. These journalists lie..
        By the way I have several family members who are Americans.. Anyone can be American.
        Do you know them all?

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  • rubso

    Thank you Ahmed Tharwat for reminding us how the military has been violating our rights and our basic safety that they swore to protect.
    For all my life all I see and feel is the military protecting their own corrupt system and were never really at anytime in history on the side of the people.

    • twinkle

      The military protected Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists and from the U.S. who wanted to do to Egypt what they did to Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

      Egypt has the 13th most powerful military and they do not want to see one single powerful military in the region except this of Israel.

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