Women still abused in Egypt prisons a year after coup

Last week on June 23, 10 Egyptian human rights organizations filed a joint complaint with the Egyptian general prosecutor, requesting an investigate into complaints of female prisoners being tortured as well as physically and sexually abused.

Women still abused in Egypt prisons a year after coup

World Bulletin / News Desk

Almost a year on from the military coup that ousted Egypt's first elected president Mohamed Morsi, hundreds of young Egyptians remain in prison after the army cracked down on all forms of dissent against their rule.

None have had to endure the burden of the crackdown more than Egyptian women, many of whom have been arrested and sentenced for being involved or affiliated with protests against the coup.

19-year-old Darine Mutawia, who was arrested on March 30, 2014 while attending the court hearing of a female colleagues from Al-Azhar University, told Al-Monitor that she spent nearly three months in the al-Qanater women's prison without charge.

"We were subjected to all forms of torture, beatings and physical and sexual abuse during our arrest and after it," she said. "During our three months inside the prison, we were verbally and physically harmed the entire time."

Saying that they were put in wards with female detainees being held for criminal cases, she added "the prison administration beat us and dragged us, while the criminal detainees would physically harass us."

"On June 11, one of the detainees that was with us provoked a problem, resulting from a verbal altercation. The prison administration intervened and beat us with iron and wooden sticks. One of our colleagues was bleeding badly after an officer kicked her forcefully," she explained.

"They locked me in a bathroom full of insects for four days and forced me to sleep on the floor. They refused to sign off on a medical examination for us after all this physical abuse," she said.

HUNGER STRIKE AND GANG RAPE

Mohammed al-Sarifi, whose sister Karima al-Sarifi was also held at the al-Qanater prison said, "Karima has been on a complete hunger strike for 18 days now, and during our last visit she was experiencing a nervous breakdown and refused to meet us."

He told Al-Monitor that her clothes had been ripped up and was forced to wear white transparent detainee clothing before being beaten and dragged by other detainees being held on criminal charges.

"When we visited her after the beatings and collective abuse Karima suffered, along with a number of female detainees in the 'military' ward of al-Qanater prison, her clothes were shredded and there were swellings and bruises on different parts of her body. She refused to take any food and said she was on hunger strike," he added.

The brother of one another female detainee, who was released four months ago, also told Al-Monitor that while his sister was in detention her family was prevented from visiting her because they had protested her deteriorating health.

"After my sister's release, the family discovered that she had been subjected to gang rape within the Central Security Camp. Yet she refused to talk about it during the period of her detention, since the prison administration had threatened to keep her locked up if she talked to anyone," he said, adding that she is still in a bad psychological state.

NO HUMAN RIGHTS CHECKS

In a written message that was smuggled out of the prison, one detained girl wrote, "None of the human rights organizations have visited us, and the prison administration did not sign off on a medical examination for us, following repeated attacks on us. They only conducted pregnancy tests."

The girl's mother related from the letter which was shown to Al-Monitor, "During my arrest, I was subjected to severe beating, dragged on the floor and my hijab was removed by soldiers from the Central Security Services and some individuals wearing civilian clothing."

"I was arrested along with three others, and we were blindfolded and thrown into a transfer vehicle full of men who beat and cursed us until they placed us in the Central Security Camp. This was the most difficult stage, as they exerted all kinds of pressure on us — beginning with verbal abuse and reaching physical and sexual harassment — to force us to confess to things we did not do."

EGYPT DENIES CLAIMS

Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Hani Abdel-Latif refused to speak to Al-Monitor about violations against women in Egyptian prisons. Rather, he said "These allegations are completely false."

"The Egyptian Interior Ministry welcomes delegations from Egyptian organizations working in the field of human rights, allowing them to visit prisons and ensure that female prisoners are treated properly in accordance with the laws...There is no hunger strike among detainees pending trial," he added.

Last week on June 23, 10 Egyptian human rights organizations filed a joint complaint with the Egyptian general prosecutor, requesting an investigate into complaints of female prisoners being tortured as well as physically and sexually abused.

The Nadim Human Rights Center, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression and the Center for Women's Issues were among the organizations to sign the petition for better measure to protect female detainees.

Bint al-Thawra (Girl of the Revolution), a Facebook page which has documented numerous violations against female prisoners on hunger strike, also launched hashtag campaigns #ReleaseEgyptsGirls and #FreeWomenOnHungerStrike to denounce the practices of the security institutions.

Last Mod: 04 Temmuz 2014, 15:25
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