In a strange turn of events, a military court yesterday acquitted doctor Ahmed Adel, who has allegedly conducted forced virginity tests on female protesters in March 2011, because the judge found the witness statements to be “contradictory.”
The ruling itself is what seemed contradictory. The 25 year-old Samira Ibrahim, who brought the case against Adel, whom she claimed was the doctor who performed the tests, was already able to obtain a ruling on December 27, 2011 proving the military wrongfully violated the rights of female protesters by subjecting them to such humiliating tests.
But despite the disappointing ruling, activists, journalists and Ibrahim herself aren’t planning to let the story end that way.
The Viral Aftermath
The web was buzzing with negative comments on the ruling yesterday.
“It’s a shame that quality lawyers don’t volunteer and take it as an ethical matter to take care of such an important case,” tweeted @KarimElHayawan.
“I read about #SamiraIbrahim and I was heartbroken. Justice will be served at some point, I'm a believer,” tweeted Egyptian American @Sotsoy who goes on Twitter by the name M.J.Y.
“RAPE is when someone forcefully inserts any part of his or her body into someone; orally, anally, or vaginally. 'Virginity Tests' = RAPE,” tweeted journalist Reem Abdellatif (@Reem_Abdellatif.)
“He who wasn’t moved by blood, honor or tears deserves the hardships and curses for his subservience,” says activists and blogger Abdel Rahman Alaa (@Abdo_El_Tohamy.)
A series of graffiti cartoons were also widely spread on Twitter and Facebook portraying Ibrahim with the words “You will not break me, military,” and “We demand retribution.” Twitter users circulated the picture, tweeting “Samira Ibrahim, a scream, a revolution, print, spray, fight.”
A women’s march was also organized to go from Tahrir Square to the Ministry of Defence at 4pm today, as well as a protest in front of the Press Syndicate, calling for a retrial and a fairer verdict. Ain Shams students have also forced two generals out of a forum the university was hosting in solidarity with Ibrahim. Ibrahim then tweeted “Egypt still has men. Thank you, Ain Shams students.”
Several feminists, as well as female activists also felt strong sympathy for Ibrahim and expressed their anger towards the ruling.
“I shouldn’t be shocked by the verdict in Samira’s case and the blame that is being pointed towards her, but I feel oppressed and I am crying,” tweeted blogger Fatma Abed (@FatmaAbed).
Journalist Deena Adel (@Deena_Adel) tweeted “This ruling means that #SamiraIbrahim will be accused of lying and may face more harassment. Now, more than ever, we need to #SupportSamira.”
Despite the ruling, it doesn’t seem that Ibrahim’s determination will be fading anytime soon. She tweeted yesterday after the ruling, “You will not be able to break me, military.” The following day Ibrahim tweeted, “Oppression is what leads to justice, even after a while,” she said. “The military judges’ justice is oppressive.”
Ibrahim, who is originally from Sohag, took the nation by storm when she became the only one of the 17 protestors subjected to virginity tests to stand up against the military and fight for her rights.
But in a patriarchal society that is more inclined to blame women for the sexual harassment they suffer than those who actually harass them, it hasn’t been an easy ride for Ibrahim. She told The National on January 11, “I never feel comfortable. Everywhere I go, I feel there are eyes on me. They want me to forget everything and just go away."