During the Egyptian revolution, women were subjected to a gruesome repressive tactic, virginity testing. The tactic, although old, has stood the test of time in the conservative and patriarchal Egyptian society. Women who were arrested demonstrating in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian uprising were stripped and the military had to manually check if they were virgins. A 25 year old Samira Ibrahim recounts her horrific story of how she got mistreated by the military and accused of inciting violence.
Harassmap.org has been tracking sexual harassment cases and according to this map, the cases peaked in january and February f 2011 – the period of the uprising. This is because the tactic became an effective tool of scaring women away from the uprising.
They were often accused of prostitution, in case they were not virgins. This was used to target Women protestors and female journalists who were very active in the struggle.
As Althusser argued, Repressive State Apparatus “consists essentially in securing by force (physical or otherwise) the political conditions of the reproduction of relations of production which are in the last resort relations of exploitation.” (Althusser)
Although this is the last resort, it often becomes the best resort for regimes that cannot stand to legitimize their oppression though ideology.
Although the Egyptian supreme ruled against the military, it is unlikely that women will see a change in the way the Egyptian society see women as people with dignity deserving respect and status just like men. After the ruling, the woman who filed a case against the military said ““A woman’s body should not be used as a tool for intimidation, and nobody should have their dignity violated.”(Samira Ibrahim)