Sexual violence in Egypt 'surges' under Sisi regime

Sexual violence in Egypt 'surges' under Sisi regime
Sexual violence perpetrated by the security forces in Egypt has 'surged' since the military takeover in July 2013, says a report by rights umbrella group FIDH.
3 min read
20 May, 2015
"The uprising of women in the Arab world" placard in Tahrir square [AFP]


The use of sexual violence against all those apprehended by Egypt's security forces has increased and is used indiscriminately since the coup of July 2013  said the The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in a new report.

FIDH, an umbrella group representing some 178 human rights organisations throughout the world, reported that in addition to opponents of General el-Sisi’s regime, victims include members of NGOs, students, women and those perceived as endangering the 'moral order', were also targeted. 

     such violence is used to eliminate public protest - FIDH

The report  accuses the Egyptian security forces of using such violence to eliminate public protest while "legitimising the authorities as guardians of the moral order."

Although there have been well documented cases of sexual assault against protesters during the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath, public demonstrations have been supressed during Sisi’s administration, allowing abuse to continue in less public spaces.  

The report details the on-going direct use of sexual violence against detainees and suspected political opponents by Egyptian security forces.

The assaults are not confined to police stations, but are rampant at university campuses and checkpoints, hospitals and homes during raids by security forces. 

Those targeted are often students or activists.

FIDH has documented multiple abuses including rape and sexual assault, rape with objects, “virginity tests” as well as sexual harassment.  The victims are predominantly women and men who are 'suspected' of being gay.

     They pulled off my veil and started again; I began screaming
-Victim of sexual assault by police

 “The number of cases of sexual assault and their gravity are much greater than in the pre-revolution situation. And sexual assault is virtually systematic in the case of arrest,” an anonymous member of an Egyptian women’s rights organisation said.

The report - ‘Exposing state hypocrisy: sexual violence by security forces in Egypt’ –contains harrowing testimonies from victims detailing their assaults. 

In one documented case, a wife of a detainee details her assault in a police station, carried out by officers in order to put pressure on her husband to confess:

“At Medinat Nasr police station, [police officers] beat me saying ‘you see what your husband is doing to you?’ (...) then they made me enter the room where he was and tried to rape me. My husband begged them to leave me alone, shouting ‘Let her go, I’m going to talk’. They said to him ‘No, speak first and we’ll let her go after.’ (...) They pulled off my veil and started again; I began screaming. My husband said to them ‘For pity’s sake stop, tell me what I have to say, tell me what I’m accused of, I’ll say everything that you want me to (...).’

The report, based on extensive interviews with victims human rights groups and lawyers, asserts that these crimes are often carried out with impunity, with little or no repercussions for the perpetrators of these assaults.

“The Egyptian government must immediately put an end to these crimes, committed by actors under their direct authority.  They must ensure serious investigations into all allegations and the prosecution and punishment of those responsible in accordance with international standards,” said Amina Bouayach, Secretary General of FIDH.