Egyptians decry ‘virginity tests’ on protesters

CAIRO (AP) — Activists and bloggers are pressing Egypt’s military rulers to investigate accusations of serious abuses against protesters, including claims that soldiers subjected female detainees to so-called “virginity tests.”

Bloggers say they will hold a day of online protest Wednesday to voice their outrage, adding to criticism of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took control of the country from ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February.

In the face of the criticism, four journalists along with a prominent blogger were summoned for questioning by the military prosecutor, according to a rights group. The blogger and two journalists were released without charges. The other two journalists will appear before prosecutors by the end of week.

Hossam el-Hamalawy, the blogger, tweeted: “The visit to the military prosecutor became a chat, where they wanted clarifications for my accusations.”

The virginity test allegations first surfaced after a March 9 rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that turned violent when men in plainclothes attacked protesters and the army intervened forcefully to clear the square.

One woman who was arrested spoke out about her treatment, and Amnesty International further documented the abuse allegations in a report that found 18 female detainees were threatened with prostitution charges and forced to undergo virginity tests. They were also beaten up and given electric shocks, the report said.

Egypt’s military rulers have come under heavy criticism from the youth protest movement, which is upset at the pace of reforms that they hope will lead Egypt to democracy.

Leaders of more than 20 youth groups on Tuesday turned down an invitation from the military government for a “national dialogue” meeting on Wednesday, saying it was hastily called while human rights violations and attempts to silence critics continued. The invitation was issued two days before the conference was to be held.

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