Egypt: "Virginity tests will spark next revolution"


24 Responses to “Egypt: "Virginity tests will spark next revolution"”

  1. myke says:

    Egypt? just to check, but we’re talking about punishing people based on a invasive and inaccurate test of a inconsequential status which shouldn’t be changed because it’s “the way we’ve always done it, it’s for the examinees own good, think of the children, blah, blah…” Are we sure this isn’t the United States?

  2. g0d5m15t4k3 says:

    Thankful that I live in a society where being an un-wed but sexually active young adult is okay. For all the moaning I make about how gays in America should be allowed to wed, I’m glad that its not a national craze to kill rape victims.

  3. Narmitaj says:

    The 2007 movie Caramel is set among a bunch of women in Beirut – one of the story threads is a woman who is getting married seeking surgery to have her virginity restored.

  4. alexdro says:

    ‘We are slaves of our own conquers’
    Graphic Commentaries on the Middle East

  5. bcsizemo says:

    “But it’s different when the state [or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] is the one forcing women’s legs apart.”

    It is? Really?

    So it’s okay when it’s your husband/father/relatives that are doing this to you, but it’s just not right when the government decides your virginity is their business?

    Umm, how about doing this for your rights to keep this a private matter. Between you and god.

    • Susan Oliver says:

      So it’s okay when it’s your husband/father/relatives that are doing this to you

      Nowhere does the author say that these non-governmental violations are ok. Her point is that when the State does something to you, then that has the bearing of the weight of the law, and you have no recourse.

      Women should be able to turn to the State when they have been wronged; when the State itself harms you then you are left utterly hopeless.

      • bcsizemo says:

        And @ Jake

        “(…) Let’s be clear, “virginity tests” are common in Egypt and straddle class and urban/rural divides. Be it the traditional midwife checking for a hymen on a bride’s wedding night, or a forensics expert or doctor called in after a prospective bridegroom’s suspicions, young women are forced to spread their legs to appease the god of virginity. But no one talks about it. ”

        Sounds like she is pointing out the tradition and the way it still carries on today. That it’s something that happens and everyone knows it, and that’s just how it is. She certainly doesn’t go out of her way to say this is a bad thing, that’s just what the culture does.

        I get that it’s wrong on all levels. And no I will not retract my earlier post. Fighting for a cause like this should be for everyone’s rights, not just freedom from oppression of the government.

    • Jake0748 says:

      bcsizemo, I’m hoping you will retract your ugly question. NOBODY is saying that anything about this is OK. Just that the barbaric practices being used by the government, as opposed to just “family”, brings it to a new level of evil. Can you get that?

  6. Cildar says:

    To what extent is this a religious practice?

  7. Anonymous says:

    @bcsizemo – I believe the author was saying that nobody talked about it when it was midwives/relatives/prospective husband, and it took the government forces assaulting the women before people were willing to speak out publicly and organize. Not that it was okay.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think maybe the author meant government-sanctioned virginity tests are different than “traditional” virginity testing only because it’s brought out-in-the-open and there’s no way to rationalize the barbarity of it. It’s easier for people to overlook or rationalize such practices when it’s viewed in the context of traditional religious or social practice. Like how circumcision is typically viewed as acceptible when done in the US (social traditon) or by practitioners of Judaism (religious tradition)… but if the government started performing them on whoever they chose, people would get riled up.

    Another example is how when some parents abuse and/or neglect their own children (to a certain degree), society as a whole doesn’t go into an outraged frenzy; they may voice their concern or dissapproval to others but they typically don’t act. But if there is an exposure of similar abuse/neglect in a state-run facility or foster system, it makes headlines and sparks very vocal moral outrage in the populace.

  9. andrei.timoshenko says:

    This is disgusting. Our attitudes to sex, especially our traditional attitudes to sex, desperately need to be rethought. I have a nagging suspicion that the attitudes generally emerged when ignorant goat herders started struggling with questions of capital accumulation, and the consequent need to settle down and figure out issues of inheritance. If one wanted to make sure that all of one’s offspring stood to inherit (from both parents) and only one’s offspring stood to inherit (again, from both parents), then the utility of strong proscriptions on sexual activity could be understandable for otherwise horny individuals, particularly when the process of pregnancy was poorly understood. Pile religious piousness on top of these proscriptions, and they become further perverted…

    To wit conservative attitudes to sex make sense among a population that is:

    Greedy – private capital accumulation is a priority
    Selfish – my offspring are more worthy than your offspring (so no whole-village child rearing for instance)
    Ignorant – no idea about the exact relationship between sex and pregnancy
    Abusive – high power differentials between aristocrats and plebs, men and women, etc
    Debased – cannot be trusted to acquire and follow an ethical code without fear of divine retribution
    Indigent – resources are highly scarce, so resource preservation is of paramount importance

    We have made progress on most (if not all, although to varying extent) of these areas. If it is inheritance that drives sexual mores, then the disgustingly abusive sexual mores are ripe for complete re-evaluation.

  10. vondasue says:

    Stuff like this makes me glad I was born and raised in the USA. A girl lacking a hymen does not prove she’s not a virgin. A possibility here, perhaps the future in laws don’t like the girl? If family wasn’t bad enough, THE ARMED FORCES!!!! Who and why are they checking?!

  11. Anonymous says:

    The men who condone, promote or partake in this activity are creepy fecking perverts – and they know it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m a virgin but I don’t have a hymen. Either I was born without one, or it was very thin and tore when I began menstruating. (Does that happen? That’s the only cause I can think of. Never been horseback riding.)

    Of course these tests are completely awful for everyone, but I feel especially sorry for the girls who actually ARE virgins (and therefore think they’re safe) who end up “failing” the test.

  13. hobomike says:

    Those guys have it all wrong. Experience is everything!

  14. bkad says:

    I hope it does spark a revolution, but given that this kind of crap has been going on what, since recorded history? and it hasn’t sparked a revolution yet… while, I hope to be surprised.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      i have to give you a 3 out of the possible 10. Your obtuseness just isn’t believable.

      Again, with FEELING.

  15. bkad says:

    i have to give you a 3 out of the possible 10. Your obtuseness just isn’t believable.

    Again, with FEELING.

    Were you replying to me or did you click my user name by mistake? I can say, in retrospect, that I didn’t add anything to conversation, but I don’t see why it is obtuse to be skeptical that mistreatment of women, whether by the government or by relatives, is going to significantly drive the revolution. I could be wrong on my history, but has treatment of women _ever_ been a significant driver in regime or governance change? As I am continually reminded, cultural attitudes toward women change very slowly.

  16. Zig says:

    I truly hope the turnout is huge and that both genders are present in number.

    During the Arab Spring I’ve been deeply moved by the bravery and perseverance of the people demanding an end to tyranny in the face of violent repression. But, all along, my deepest respects have gone to the women in these nations who risk even more than their male counterparts and still stand out there knowing full well how much worse their treatment will be if they are taken by the security forces.

    It’s beyond high time practices like these are resigned to the dustbin of history.

  17. Mantissa128 says:

    I think this kind of literal, physical control of women is what defines barbarism. Only when it is abandoned do we pass into civilized society.

    The real revolution of the last century has been the enfranchisement and empowerment of women in the Western world: to perform any job, control their reproduction, vote, own property and access education. Societies that embrace this prosper in a modern age; those that don’t, don’t.

    Fuck, man. Just accept modernity already, aiight?

    • Tdawwg says:

      In many ways those literal controls are preferable to the infinitely subtler, infinitely more insidious ideological constraints on women (everyone, really) in the West. Also, the labor, reproductive, and voting achievements you proudly point to have gone hand-in-hand with setbacks and disparities, like the pernicious glass ceiling phenomenon, challenges and rollbacks on abortion rights, etc. Your Orientalist chauvinism and carping about “barbarism” is bad enough, but it doesn’t even present an honest, detailed look at the West that you’re tacitly championing as an enlightened alternative to the barbarity you decry.

  18. Quiet Wyatt says:

    The whole concept of a “virginity test” for women, whether carried out privately due to cultural norms, or exposed for all to see as a political tactic, is barbaric, brutal and inexcusable. (I shouldn’t even call it “barbaric” because that unnecessarily insults Barbars.)

    I do NOT advocate eye-for-an-eye action in any way, but I can’t help wondering what it might be like if there were similarly a “promiscuity test” for men, with positive test results incurring similar violence and approbation.

  19. Layne says:

    As with much of what we see culturally in that part of the world, this kind of routine subjugation and embarrassment is heartbreaking.

    We’ll know that there’s truly been a revolution in the Middle East when the women there are no longer treated like livestock.

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