HomeNewsStripped, Groped and Violated: Egyptian Women Describe Abuse by the State

Stripped, Groped and Violated: Egyptian Women Describe Abuse by the State

These women were either arrested for speaking out or approached authorities to report a crime.

In each case, they said, they were sexually assaulted by officials who swore to protect them.

Whether victims of crimes, witnesses or accused, women confronted with the Egyptian criminal justice system are at risk of being ostracized, stripped of their clothes, tampered with, pushed and raped.

This treatment is illegal, but in this authoritarian and patriarchal country there is little they can do about it.

The women in these videos, speaking publicly for the first time, described sexual violations that they said were committed in police stations, prisons and hospitals.

Some occurred during routine searches by police or prison guards, the women said. Others were performed by state-employed doctors who were ordered to perform invasive physical examinations, including virginity tests.

There is no public data on the number of such incidents, which rights groups believe could amount to torture and sexual assault. And women in Egypt rarely report them because victims of sexual assault are often rejected and disparaged.

But civil society groups, experts, lawyers and therapists say there is enough anecdotal evidence to suggest this happens frequently.

The New York Times found a dozen women who shared similar experiences. Most spoke to us anonymously, fearing arrest and fear of stigmatizing their families.

Government officials have generally dismissed and denied accounts of systemic abuse, insisting that they carry out standard searches that are legal and necessary in investigations or to prevent smuggling from entering prisons.

Officials from the Interior Ministry, which oversees police and prisons, and the prosecution did not respond to requests for comment.

One policeman, however, who worked for years in a police station and prison, said sexual abuse of women by judicial authorities was “everywhere.” Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was afraid of reprisals, he said the aim was not to gather evidence or search for contraband but to “humiliate your humanity”.

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