A senior Egyptian general has told CNN that women who were arrested during protests against the government in March were forced to undergo "virginity tests."
Human rights group Amnesty International is calling on the Egyptian authorities to bring those responsible for ordering or conducting the tests to justice.
The admission by the general, who spoke to the news channel on condition of anonymity, contrasts with previous denials made by the Egyptian government.
However, the general contended that the treatment of the women was justified on the grounds that they were “not like your daughter or mine.”
“These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters,” he said.
He added, “We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place.”
Eighteen women were detained when army officers moved in to clear protesters from Cairo’s Tahrir Square on March 9. Amnesty International said the women were detained, beaten, given electric shocks, and all but one subjected to strip searches, virginity tests, and threats of prostitution charges.
Amnesty International said it had written to Egypt’s Supreme Council for Armed Forces with testimonies of women who had been subjected to the tests. In the letter, the organization requested an investigation but no response was forthcoming from the council.
“This admission is an utterly perverse justification of a degrading form of abuse,” said Amnesty International.
“The women were subjected to nothing less than torture.”
It condemned the general’s suggestion that only virgins can be victims of rape, saying it was a “long-discredited sexist attitude and legal absurdity.”
“When deterring a case of rape, it is irrelevant whether or not the victim is a virgin,” the group said.
“The army must immediately instruct security forces and soldiers that such ‘tests’ are banned.”