A leaked audio recording revealed a confession from a former Egyptian army commander, Major
General Hassan al-Roueini, who served as the commander of the central military region during the
January 2011 revolution, of the crime of forcibly checking the virginity of 17 female Egyptian activists
after arresting them from Tahrir Square.
The Egyptian dissident TV channel Mekameleen broadcast a leaked audio clip, in which Al-Roueini
spoke about the incident that took place nine years ago.
The incident took place in March 2011, after arresting, detaining, beating, and subjecting the women to
electric shocks, stripping them of their clothes, and threatening them with charges of prostitution.
The crime sparked widespread controversy at the time, and the Administrative Judicial Court said on
December 27, 2011, that it was a violation of human dignity and bodily integrity and violated the laws of
military justice and violated human rights.
Human rights organisations stressed at the time that “the examinations involved deliberate humiliation
and the intentional humiliation of females participating in the demonstrations,” explaining that “those
responsible for conducting examinations from the armed forces have committed a criminal offence that
does not lapse with age.”
A previous report by Amnesty International, on June 27, 2011, said that “the head of Military
Intelligence, Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces at the time, told the Secretary General of Amnesty International that these checks were
conducted in detention centres to protect the army from possible rape allegations, and promised to stop
the army from conducting those checks.”
Virginity checks mean investigating a girl’s virginity by revealing the hymen, which is considered
prohibited and contrary to religious teachings and Egyptian and Arab traditions.
In the new leak, al-Roueini admitted that the army conducted virginity checks on 17 revolutionary girls
in March 2011, adding: “Americans who talk about human rights have forced detainees in Abu Ghraib
prison to undress completely.”
Al-Roueini admitted giving innumerable incentives to army officers immediately after the January
Doctors and human rights defenders considered that this crime violates all the values and laws
governing the medical profession.
However, observers doubted that the audio leak would trigger any legal accountability of those
responsible for this incident, noting that these accusations included General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
One of the 17 girls who had undergone these checks had previously spoken publicly about what
happened to her, and said that she had been tortured and electrocuted in order to force her to undress in
front of officers and soldiers who made that check.
This is not the first time that this case has been raised. Al-Sisi said at the time that “virginity tests were
taken to protect the army from possible charges of rape.”
Al-Sisi’s statement contradicts what one of the girls said, saying she was threatened with fabricated
charges of prostitution.
Later, a military statement claimed that the checks were personal acts from a doctor in the armed forces.
On January 3, 2012, the Military Court began the trial of the soldier, Doctor Ahmed Adel Muhammad
Al-Muji, 27, for conducting a “virginity examination” of Samira Ibrahim and a number of demonstrators,
on charges of “committing an overt act that violates modesty and neglecting to obey military orders.”
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights revealed that the military judiciary officials intervened to
reduce the accusation against the soldier from a felony of indecent assault, to a misdemeanor of a
shaming act punishable by a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding a year.
In March 2012 the court acquitted the Egyptian military doctor, who examined the virginity of the
Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the acquittal of the military officer (doctor), who was the only
one accused in the trial of “virginity examinations.”
The organisation considered this acquittal a severe blow to the hopes of accountability for the violations
suffered by women by members of the army throughout the year 2011.
HRW noted that the army failed to investigate and impose penalties for those acts.
Observers said that army leaders intentionally acquitted the doctor because he was following the
instructions of a prominent general in the armed forces.