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"The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine."
May 31, 2011 9:50 PM   Subscribe

Amnesty International first reported in March that Egyptian authorities were conducting "virginity tests" on female protestors. Today, military authorities admitted that these tests took place and tried to defend the practice.
posted by reenum (90 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"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," the general said. "None of them were (virgins)."

Fuck.
posted by eugenen at 9:58 PM on May 31, 2011


Wha..???
posted by ducky l'orange at 10:02 PM on May 31, 2011


We know these women were raped because they were threatened with violence if they resisted these barbaric tests. That is rape enough. It's important that this general is forced out immediately.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:04 PM on May 31, 2011 [22 favorites]


I read about this a couple of days ago and was hoping this both would and would not make it to the Blue.

Interesting to me is that the authorities knew that there would be charges of rape being made by these women. There's something deeply ingrained in that culture which uses sexual violence as a method of control against women. (Maybe men too, I have no idea.)

The Arab Spring is great and all that, but unless there is a vision about what to put in place of What Came Before, the vacuum will be filled by the loudest voices and the biggest bullies. This is just the start of that bullying process, I'm afraid.

What are the solutions? How do you get a culture to change? You can't just stand there as an outsider and go against generations of cultural conditioning and say "you have to change". What has to be done to cause the culture to change itself, to want to change, to see change as vital?

I have no answers. Articles like this just leave me confused and full of questions.
posted by hippybear at 10:11 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


"The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine," the general said. "These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).

I just typed for about five minutes explaining how that made me feel, but I think it speaks for itself. Not like your daughter, or mine...
posted by Wroksie at 10:16 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, didn't see the title.
posted by Wroksie at 10:19 PM on May 31, 2011


It always blows my little mind that these officials are delivering these "explanations" as if the rest of the planet won't see them as being even more demented than we had originally expected. We wanted to make sure they wouldn't claim they were raped, but luckily none of them were virgins? What the fuck? I mean, it's one thing to be a horrible human being who rapes people, fine, whatever, but to expect that people critical of you are going to hear that explanation and just sort of nod their heads and understand...that's a whole new level of insanity, whether that insanity is at an individual level or part of some deep-seated cultural delusion.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:22 PM on May 31, 2011 [26 favorites]


This reminds me of what I once came across years ago as the standard age of consent law in Oklahoma (this was on one of those "weird laws" sites, and so should be taken with a grain of salt) which was something like, "16, unless the girl has had sex previously."

Any culture that operates under the mindset that it's not rape if the victim isn't a virgin is completely fucked up on the subject.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:26 PM on May 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


I hate to imagine how they'd react to Slutwalk Cairo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:41 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's rather telling they thought that a suitable defense, sadly.

There's a lot more that needs to be done to shift that cultural perspective beyond merely calling the "virginity test" rape.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 10:50 PM on May 31, 2011


Time to vocally and consciously boycott Egyptian tourism* until these women are seen as daughters to be respected. Of course, I may be biased towards self-interest since I am someone's daughter.

*But if people have suggestions for other countries where I can ride a camel without a side of gender cray-cray, that'd be sweet also.
posted by ntartifex at 11:01 PM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


There have been plenty of reasons to vocally and consciously boycott Egyptian tourism for a long, long time. During Mubarak how about the imprisonment and torture of journalists and political dissidents? Or the beating, torture, and imprisonment of homosexuals?
posted by sbutler at 11:19 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now that the Egyptian people have finally thrown out a dictator and are struggling to build a stable, open, democratic society it is hardly the apporpriate time to call for a boycott.

The military have a hand in lots of businesses (presumably including some that are tourism related) but why punish Egyptians for the idiocy of this General and the appaling behaviour of his troops?

These protestors are Egyptian too. How does a boycott help them?
posted by GeckoDundee at 11:29 PM on May 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


"*But if people have suggestions for other countries where I can ride a camel without a side of gender cray-cray, that'd be sweet also."

I rode a camel at the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago.

Just sayin'.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I'm not sure any of us can do anything aside from say, "What the fuck, Egypt?" on a website.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Egypt has an annual military budget of about 4 billion dollars. The United States pays them about half of that. It seems to me that the US could (and should) have an awful lot to say to Egypt about how it runs its military and who it should fire or prosecute right now.
posted by pracowity at 11:43 PM on May 31, 2011 [20 favorites]


GeckoDundee,

Like you said, the military controls a great deal of businesses, and as political commentators have put it, are loath to do things that reduce the flow of money into said businesses.
posted by ntartifex at 11:45 PM on May 31, 2011


Now that the Egyptian people have finally thrown out a dictator and are struggling to build a stable, open, democratic society it is hardly the apporpriate time to call for a boycott.

I can't think of a better time to stage a boycott than when these and political winds of change are blowing. Shelving reaction to this disgusting practice and to other associated forms of oppression going on is and very well should be part of the struggle you talk about. Respect for women needs to be reflected in that open, democratic society.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:50 PM on May 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have refined it down to this:

"We don't want people to be able to claim we sexually assaulted them, so we sexually assaulted them."
posted by sycophant at 11:56 PM on May 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


pracowity: It seems to me that the US could (and should) have an awful lot to say to Egypt about how it runs its military and who it should fire or prosecute right now.

With respect, the reason Egypt has been fucked up for the last forty years is in significant part due to the USA trying to tell it how to run its military and politics. Perhaps you should leave it to the Egyptians to fix things. I can't see any evidence yet that they won't be able to do it.

If Egyptian women start calling for a boycott, I'd be right with them on that. In the meantime, they need all the help they can get.
posted by GeckoDundee at 12:12 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


We know these women were raped because they were threatened with violence if they resisted these barbaric tests. That is rape enough. It's important that this general is forced out immediately.
That, and the fact that Egyptian authorities raped the hell out of everyone, men and women.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 AM on June 1, 2011


GeckoDundee: "Now that the Egyptian people have finally thrown out a dictator and are struggling to build a stable, open, democratic society it is hardly the apporpriate time to call for a boycott.

The military have a hand in lots of businesses (presumably including some that are tourism related) but why punish Egyptians for the idiocy of this General and the appaling behaviour of his troops?

These protestors are Egyptian too. How does a boycott help them
"

Calling for a boycott is what Internet People do instead of actually doing something when they are upset by something. Nobody ever actually follows through, though. It's just harmless letting-off-steam, generally.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:52 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Calling for a boycott is what Internet People do instead of actually doing something when they are upset by something. Nobody ever actually follows through, though. It's just harmless letting-off-steam, generally.

A boycott is generally the only action available - it's not like the "Internet People" can vote out said general (even if generals could be voted out). It's a capitalist global economy - the only way to vote is with your wallet. What would you propose instead?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:08 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora - I apologise. I didn't mean for my last comment to sound so... hostile. Stupid lack of nuance in text.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:27 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pardon me for being a little slow, I don't speak crazy. Is the following what the general is implying?
World: Did you rape those female protesters?
General: We didn't rape them. But if we did, they were all sluts and whores anyway and it's not rape when you do it to a whore.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:50 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


There, she said, she and several of other female detainees were subjected to a "virginity test."

I never heard that euphemism before, but by golly folks, I think we got ourselves a good 'ol fashion rape.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:23 AM on June 1, 2011


If Egyptian women start calling for a boycott, I'd be right with them on that. In the meantime, they need all the help they can get.

You really believe two weeks at the Marriott Sharm is going to help those women? I admit boycotting is hardly going to transform their lives, but it strikes me as a little naive to think that tourism can champion social change; tourists neither engage with the issues or care much for them.
posted by londonmark at 2:23 AM on June 1, 2011


a consumer boycott doesn't make any sense to me, that would only continue to strengthen the military and authorities. If anything we should force Egypt to respect free enterprise and allow the individual men and women to continue to conduct and trade and other business. Sure we give 4 billion in aid(?), but that could be relatively little of their overall economy unless we continue to further depress it.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:29 AM on June 1, 2011


Is the following what the general is implying?

I thought his logic (so to speak) was that a single woman who is not a virgin cannot possibly complain about being raped because a single woman who is not a virgin must be a whore and a whore cannot possibly be raped because a whore is only a whore. Therefore, to protect themselves from being falsely accused by whores of impossible rapes, they conducted a simple medical examination of each female prisoner to prove that the prisoners were already whores before they were arrested. And, of course, a medical examination is 100 percent reliable in proving whether a woman has in fact had sex. See? Simple!
posted by pracowity at 2:30 AM on June 1, 2011


"medical examination"

the euphemisms keep getting better,

how about "protective custody"?

What euphemisms should we use for the word rape? Because I know few better to get the idea across, how forced sexual intercourse? Should we add in the word genital? What fisting or fingering? Or how about medical probe insertion in detection of hymen?
posted by Shit Parade at 2:35 AM on June 1, 2011


londonmark: You really believe two weeks at the Marriott Sharm is going to help those women?

Yes.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:36 AM on June 1, 2011


Oh, I dunno, boycotts have had an impact in the past. The problem here is that there isn't a connection to Egypt the way the West had with S. Africa and I can't see the USA giving up military influence in the country given the state of things.

Supporting rights groups that work in Egypt (or frankly, anywhere in places where people are judged by whether or not they live 'properly') would be a good way to help counter the abuses. Even if it seems a million miles away, for the most part being able to mount a protracted campaign of awareness can help these organizations bring everyone towards social justice (or, a more justic-ier society).
posted by Salmonberry at 2:38 AM on June 1, 2011


I know tourism brings in money, but that's not what we're talking about. What evidence do you have that tourism drives political and social change? If we all promise to visit the pyramids and go diving in the Red Sea, will the Egyptian army stop raping protestors?
posted by londonmark at 2:42 AM on June 1, 2011


I don't think I said that.

What will help these women (in the long term, along with all other Egyptians) is a stable, democratic Egypt. Anything that harms the economy, especially to the extent that a significant reduction in tourism would, makes this more difficult.

Should the general be disciplined for what he said or sacked for holding the reprehensible views he displayed in saying what he did? Yes. Of course. Should the offenders be prosecuted for rape? Yes. Of course. Both those things are only likely in a modern, free Egypt. Future similar offences are also less likely in a modern, free Egypt.

Boycotting Egypt will harm the economy and make the autonomous resolution of their problems more difficult, not easier. A boycott would harm the economy and make a swing back towards authoritarianism more, not less, likely.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:50 AM on June 1, 2011




Budget:

revenues: $46.82 billion
expenditures: $64.19 billion (2010 est.)

Public debt:
80.5% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16
80.9% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
12.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 208
11.9% (2009 est.)


This isn't a terrible rich or wealthy nation. It is a relatively small corporation even, BP is an order of magnitude greater in revenues and expenditures (and the other direction),

If money empowers the common man to peaceably live, then he ought to have his fair share. This country continues to suffer through a great catastrophe, and it requires a tremendous amount of assistance, a transition to democracy is still uncertain.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:50 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


*But if people have suggestions for other countries where I can ride a camel without a side of gender cray-cray, that'd be sweet also.

Australia now has the largest herds of wild camels in the world. I believe they export them to Middle Eastern countries these days.

Time to vocally and consciously boycott Egyptian tourism* until these women are seen as daughters to be respected. Of course, I may be biased towards self-interest since I am someone's daughter.

I am not someone's daughter, but I can't summon a great amount of enthusiasm for visiting Egypt with my daughter or wife if there's a risk they'd be subject to this bullshit.
posted by rodgerd at 3:06 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


What will help these women (in the long term, along with all other Egyptians) is a stable, democratic Egypt. Anything that harms the economy, especially to the extent that a significant reduction in tourism would, makes this more difficult.

I agree with the first sentence, I'm just struggling with the logical leap to the second. Tourist income can and will be used to fuel the engines of dictatorship, while the presence of a healthy tourist industry has frequently been used as propoganda by incumbent regimes. The Egyptian authorities are as keen for tourists as the struggling street sellers; if they want them, they should have to work for them.
posted by londonmark at 3:18 AM on June 1, 2011


Tourist income can and will be used to fuel the engines of dictatorship

Especially in Egypt, where the military runs the economy, and specifically has a strong hand in creating and running the tourist economy - resorts like Hurghada are built on former military land.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:32 AM on June 1, 2011


A difference between the economic boycott of South Africa and what's being proposed here is we didn't suddenly notice that South Africa had racial problems and decide to impose sanctions after apartheid was abolished and previously banned parties were allowed to run in elections.

The situations aren't quite analogous of course. The Egyptian uprising was aimed at toppling the regime, not addressing gender inequality. However, there feminists groups in Egypt, Egyptian feminists did participate in the intifada, and Egypt has made constitutional changes opening up the electoral process (though not as much as a lot of people in the opposition want). Hopefully, this will allow new political parties who, unlike the ruling National Democratic Party, actually do care about women's rights to push for changes.
posted by nangar at 3:40 AM on June 1, 2011


The agriculture objectives on the desert lands are often questioned; the desert farm lands which were offered regularly at different levels and prices were restricted to a limited group of elites selected very carefully, who later profiteered retailing the granted large desert farm land by pieces. This allegedly transforms the desert farms to tourist resorts, hits all government plans to develop and improve the conditions of the poor, and causes serious negative impact on agriculture and the overall national economy over time. One company, for example, bought over 70 hectare of large desert farm for a price as low as EGP 0.05 per square meter and now sells for EGP 300 per square meter. In numbers, 70 hectares bought for about US$6,000 in 2000 sells for over US$3.7 million in 2007. Currently, no clear solution exists to deal with these activities.

uncited/unsourced from Wikipedia

but it suggests tourism may not necessarily be beneficial for Egyptian Democracy. And what is a tourist farm anyway, Here are some nice pictures of Hurghada,

Google Maps and Google images

seems like a silly use of water to me, wonder what water usage costs in Egypt.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:06 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've not found Amnesty International to ever pull its punches, so if you read their article, you'll see that perhaps rape is not really the correct word to use in this situation. Molestation seems more accurate and just as wrong (morally).

I don't in anyway condone the actions of these people, but if you say rape, Americans have a definite conception of what that is, and if someone actually reads the article and sees that these actions were not rape as we tend to see it (you know, on the TV) then the story loses a little impact.

But if you start out with molestation and then add in "virginity checks" and anyone not found to be a virgin gets charged with prostitution and maybe gets beaten with hoses and electro-shocked, well the impact of that is something the nitpickers can't parse away.
posted by BeReasonable at 4:31 AM on June 1, 2011


Let us first make sure that women have equal rights wherever we are typing from instead of castigating the puppet military of a barely functioning country for violating their women. They've been treating women like chattel since way before the first pyramid was drawn up and they aren't going to change their ways just because you don't like it.
posted by Renoroc at 4:36 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish just one of these reporters described what a "virginity check" actually is. The victims here deserve us calling out what actually happened. We legitimize the pepetrators' actions to some degree when we use their code words.
posted by anthropoid at 5:33 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rape is a serious problem in the American military too, I'm told.
posted by Trurl at 5:43 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, so I'm not supposed to boycott Egypt, but I am supposed to boycott Myanmar? Dangit, we need a central registry for this sort of thing, I'm losing track already.
posted by aramaic at 5:51 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see why you'd have to have a formal boycott, really. I can't imagine that many western women are going to be visiting Egypt any time soon.
posted by empath at 5:53 AM on June 1, 2011


>>"*But if people have suggestions for other countries where I can ride a camel without a side of gender cray-cray, that'd be sweet also."

>I rode a camel at the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago


That's the same Chicago where the police were torturing prisoners at police stations, right? And where a couple of cops just got arrested for raping a woman while in uniform and on the job? And equally, we are talking about the same Egyptian security forces that my tax dollars supported quite handsomely for four or five decades with training, equipment, and facilities, right?

The point being, Egypt isn't 110% RAPEY and the US isn't some gender-neutral paradise. I think we are very quick to discount the systemic violence we live with every day (and that we subsidize at home and abroad), and equally quick to take as emblematic of an entire society articles like this. Clearly, what is being described is bad and shouldn't happen, and is a reflection of deep and unpleasant attitudes towards women in some parts of Egyptian society. It should be condemned, and those working to change it supported.

But I wish we could be a bit slower on the condemnation without thinking about our own culpability and involvement, and the way the same issues are manifested here.
posted by Forktine at 5:58 AM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


It might help if the Egyptian military were explicitly informed that their country is losing tourism income because of these acts. An organized boycott would do that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:00 AM on June 1, 2011


But I wish we could be a bit slower on the condemnation without thinking about our own culpability and involvement, and the way the same issues are manifested here

You're absolutely right, carry on raping, Egyptians!
posted by empath at 6:07 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's stuff like this that makes people rankle about "multiculturalism," as if all cultures are equally deserving of respect and deference. Virginity tests? And somehow they think that's a good idea? Dude. Can we just collectively push back from the table in disgust?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:09 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think people are overreacting. I don't see what is so invasive about testing a female for her virginity.

You just sprinkle a little holy water on her and see if she burns.
posted by flarbuse at 6:12 AM on June 1, 2011


But if you start out with molestation and then add in "virginity checks" and anyone not found to be a virgin gets charged with prostitution and maybe gets beaten with hoses and electro-shocked, well the impact of that is something the nitpickers can't parse away.

Sexual Assault seems just as accurate.

I think the most staggering part is that the statement essentially frames 'rape' as theft of virginity, rather than violation of consent. It's not like I don't understand some people see it that way, but seeing it spelled out so unequivocally is... kind of mind-blowing. And sickening.
posted by verb at 6:21 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


This account is just brimming with WTFness for me. In addition to saying, basically, these women were whores because they weren't virgins and so later if/when they say they were raped you can just ignore them, the official says they decided to give some of the detainees a second chance when they found out they were college students. Well, great about that second chance so no jail time, but are they just making up laws there as they go along? If they found out the protesters were uneducated (and perhaps more easily silenced), would they make them serve even longer sentences?

Egypt has an annual military budget of about 4 billion dollars. The United States pays them about half of that. It seems to me that the US could (and should) have an awful lot to say to Egypt about how it runs its military and who it should fire or prosecute right now.

I get what you mean, and I certainly would like to see some positive change, but we have to be careful not to use this as an excuse for the U.S. to take over and set up our own people. Because the rest of the world already sees us as bullies, and also because we ALwAYS screw that up. We support 'freedom fighters' or similar groups we think share our ideals, give them the means to do some good, and inevitably we end up with some tyrannical despot taking over that we helped to put in place. The U.S., more often than not, does more harm than good simply by intervening at all.
posted by misha at 7:03 AM on June 1, 2011


Bahrain is targeting women as well, although at the moment, the government is only detaining them. The story says that young men have been raped, and older men threatened with rape; the woman in this story says she was not raped.
posted by rtha at 7:05 AM on June 1, 2011


Egyptians are going to protest.
posted by Summer at 7:05 AM on June 1, 2011


It's stuff like this that makes people rankle about "multiculturalism," as if all cultures are equally deserving of respect and deference.

Perhaps some cultures really are better than others.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:07 AM on June 1, 2011


We are wrong to assume Arab Spring bringing change. Military in charge and does not want to give up what it got under former dictator. Now, opening crossing to Hamas Gaza, cut off gas to israel (in violation of treaty), and catering to street dudes. Meanwhile (see NY Times today) censoring what gets in media. Only group with semblance of political know-how that might take over: Muslim Brotherhood, a group we have mistakenly believed to be benign. No good exptected from that area for some time.
posted by Postroad at 7:19 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


> It's stuff like this that makes people rankle about "multiculturalism," as if all cultures are equally deserving of respect and deference. Virginity tests? And somehow they think that's a good idea? Dude. Can we just collectively push back from the table in disgust?

Just possibly, Cool Papa Bell, we could support Egyptians who are trying to push back, at least morally, if nothing else, rather than screaming that Arabs are subhuman and no one should have any sympathy for them or treat any of them as if they were humans like us.

And somehow they think that's a good idea?

The Egyptian military and security apparatus has been part of a one-party state for years. (And, yes, the US government supported that state.) They're used to abusing power and being able to get away with it. They're used to using rape, torture, killings, beatings and imprisonment as a way of controlling their population. I don't think the Egyptian people think being raped, tortured, beaten, killed, or imprisoned by their government is good idea, and recent events (if you've been paying any attention at all) would suggest that a lot them have a problem with it.
posted by nangar at 8:19 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The U.S., more often than not, does more harm than good simply by intervening at all.

True, but the US is already intervening in the form of giving them 50 percent of their military budget. The US pays the salaries of the guys doing the virginity checks. It would be nice if the US held its Egyptian employees accountable for their actions.
posted by pracowity at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2011


GeckoDundee: "With respect, the reason Egypt has been fucked up for the last forty years is in significant part due to the USA trying to tell it how to run its military and politics."

Of course it's America's fault.
posted by falameufilho at 8:24 AM on June 1, 2011


Trurl: "Rape is a serious problem in the American military too, I'm told."

And not only it is America's fault, but America and Egypt are birds of a feather when it comes to Army rape.
posted by falameufilho at 8:25 AM on June 1, 2011


"Multiculturalism" does not mean "lawlessness". It means that people have the right to identify themselves with any culture, and do the lawful things of that culture, according to a set of laws and norms decided by society as a whole. The alternative is "Stalinism" which doesn't sound good to me.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2011


Of course it's America's fault.

Yeah, that was exactly what Gecko meant. I'm sure the billions of dollars we've given them in military aid alone has been entirely without strings, knowledge of what happens to it, or advice or training.
posted by rtha at 8:38 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And not only it is America's fault, but America and Egypt are birds of a feather when it comes to Army rape.

If your point is that rapists in the American military tend to prey on their fellow soldiers rather than the civilians they're supposed to be protecting, that doesn't make a difference to me. And I doubt it makes a difference to their victims.

My only point is that we have a heinous enough problem of our own with soldiers committing rape before we start lecturing the Egyptians on their problem.
posted by Trurl at 8:48 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this argues for 1848 instead of 1989.

Note that this is the Army, not the Police. and it looks more and more like a coup than a revolution.

If you want to do something constructive, a few pennies right now to the Albert Einstein Institution would not be amiss, since it was them as was one of the initiators of the revolt.
posted by warbaby at 8:50 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Multiculturalism" does not mean "lawlessness". It means that people have the right to identify themselves with any culture, and do the lawful things of that culture, according to a set of laws and norms decided by society as a whole. The alternative is "Stalinism" which doesn't sound good to me.

Multiculturalism only works when there is mutual respect between the cultures. I'm not going to respect some authoritarian/theocratic regime, if they don't extend the same respect to minorities and other cultures.
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on June 1, 2011


While I think that mainstream Egyptian culture has some specific problems about gender that are a lot more dramatic and overt than those in the US, it is worth noting that police rape and sexually abuse women in the US fairly regularly. As I've said before here, I know several young women protesters who were strip-searched (and in one case filmed) in front of an audience after a faked-up arrest during the 2008 RNC convention - no one else in that batch of arrestees was strip searched, just the college-aged girls. I have also met several sex workers who have been groped and abused by police during arrests.

Unaccountable police/army power creates the opportunity - and, I think, helps create the desire - to abuse women and vulnerable men. This can obviously be magnified by fundamentalism/overtly acceptable patriarchy, but that's not the only thing going on.
posted by Frowner at 9:01 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


> We are wrong to assume Arab Spring bringing change. Military in charge and does not want to give up what it got under former dictator.

I'm not as pessimistic as you, Postroad. I don't think the protests are suddenly going to turn North Africa into a utopia either. What Tunisia and Egypt went through was hard, what they gained was limited, and it's not over yet. What happened there reminds me of the American civil rights struggle.

Racism wasn't erased by that struggle, and African-Americans didn't suddenly and magically become equal, but things did change, people of African decent can vote in US now, in reality, not just in theory, the political landscape was altered, and decades later we are feeling effects of that that have taken that long to mature.

Nevertheless, something did happen. And I think something did happen and is happening in North Africa.
posted by nangar at 9:05 AM on June 1, 2011


Multiculturalism only works when there is mutual respect between the cultures. I'm not going to respect some authoritarian/theocratic regime, if they don't extend the same respect to minorities and other cultures.

There's a pretty big difference between respecting a culture and respecting a regime, and it's not difficult to respect or support one without the other. In fact, the primary motivation for these officially-sanctioned sexual assaults is that it is a means of showing great disrespect in accordance with Egyptian culture; if no one would be offended by it, it might still occur, but the reason for the official sanction would be lacking.
posted by notashroom at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2011


Egypt’s Military Censors Critics as It Faces More Scrutiny
posted by homunculus at 9:23 AM on June 1, 2011


Syrian security forces accused of crimes against humanity: Human Rights Watch says children are among those 'systematically' killed and tortured during peaceful protests
posted by homunculus at 9:52 AM on June 1, 2011


Just possibly, Cool Papa Bell, we could support Egyptians who are trying to push back, at least morally

There are fighter planes in Libya and Obama urging Mubarak to step down. I support this wholeheartedly.

But there's a bigger point here than Egyptians pushing back, and that's how modernity should trump culture. The fact that virginity tests took place speak more about how Egyptian culture views women in general than specific politics. This happened, and large swaths of the populace think that's totally cool.

It's like looking at old photographs of African Americans being lynched in the U.S. It's awful to see two guys dangling from a tree. But what's horrific is the dozens of otherwise normal looking folks all coming out to see it, as if to say, "Yep, that's what's supposed to happen."

Can we just put a nuclear power plant in my backyard? So we can stop talking to and buying oil and stuff from these knuckleheaded countries until they come to their senses?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:03 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Syrian security forces accused of crimes against humanity: Human Rights Watch says children are among those 'systematically' killed and tortured during peaceful protests

Syria is starting to look worse than Libya, and we may have a massacre on our hands there soon if something doesn't change.

I think Iran is close to exploding again after the murder of a female dissident by security forces today.
posted by empath at 10:27 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Perhaps you should leave it to the Egyptians to fix things. I can't see any evidence yet that they won't be able to do it."


My Egyptian friends are now making woeful resigned comparisons to the Romanian Revolution of '89. The shit is staying real
posted by Blasdelb at 10:29 AM on June 1, 2011


Trurl: "My only point is that we have a heinous enough problem of our own with soldiers committing rape before we start lecturing the Egyptians on their problem."

Sure, I apologize. America should keep its fucking mouth shut until it stop lynching negroes.
posted by falameufilho at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2011


(Tu Quoque, also known as the #1 trick in the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad School of Rhetoric)
posted by falameufilho at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2011


I'm confused. Has the US stepped forward in any sort of official fashion and made statements about Egypt and the virginity exams and demanded that they be stopped? Or are you upset by a very tiny subset of US citizens discussing this on an internet message board, probably one of the least likely subsets of US citizens to engage in virginity exams or rape or lynching of anyone of any race?

I don't understand your repeated insistence of whatever it is you're insisting happen or not happen. If the subject matter of this thread is personally upsetting to you, then you should close the window or tab and stop reading. But to suggest that the topic shouldn't be discussed here on MetaFilter is a bit... um... silly?
posted by hippybear at 11:11 AM on June 1, 2011


Sure, I apologize. America should keep its fucking mouth shut until it stop lynching negroes.

To be fair, there is a big difference between "America does bad things too, nyah!" and "You realize we fund their military with our foreign aid, right? We are paying those people to do this and have the capacity to stop paying them, right?"
posted by verb at 11:32 AM on June 1, 2011


Can we predict with any certainty what effect, if any, not paying them would have on their culture? I don't think we have a good track record with that sort of thing.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2011


America should keep its fucking mouth shut until it stop lynching negroes.

It should certainly stop pretending that it has any moral authority to draw upon in condemning human rights abuses.

Including the rape of prisoners.
posted by Trurl at 1:21 PM on June 1, 2011


It should certainly stop pretending that it has any moral authority to draw upon in condemning human rights abuses.

I think if the world waits for only those who have moral authority in such things to be the only ones speaking out about abuse when it occurs, we'll have no voices speaking out at all.

Anyway, I ask again... Has the US spoken out about these virginity tests in any official capacity? Has Secretary Clinton made any speeches about it?
posted by hippybear at 1:28 PM on June 1, 2011


Forget a boycott. I vote to send rape kits and these things (which are not currently in production).
posted by vitabellosi at 2:59 PM on June 1, 2011


It should certainly stop pretending that it has any moral authority to draw upon in condemning human rights abuses.

The U.S. government condemning the treatment of Egyptian prisoners may be hypocritical, but it's a powerful hypocrite. And, of course, it doesn't mean that ordinary citizens can't write to Amnesty, contact their representatives, etc.

The right to call for an end to abusive practices is not the sole purview of the morally pure. Of whom there are precious fucking few.
posted by rtha at 3:52 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Trivial in comparison to the rest of the thread, but both Australia and the US have events where camel rides are available. Virginia City, Nevada has camel races in September 9-11th yearly. You could tour the Oasis camel Dairy in California.
Australia where some 200,000 feral camels roam the outback has places that offer camel rides and treks.
Private camel treks are available in Texas as well. Egypt is not the only place to ride a camel.

As far as the evil behavior toward female students in Egypt and other places in the Middle East, this is something we as a country need to react to diplomatically. We as a country can do a lot with where we send aid or don't send it to send a message.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:42 PM on June 1, 2011


We as a country can do a lot with where we send aid or don't send it to send a message.

Yeah, look how well that's worked for us in Israel.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:28 AM on June 2, 2011


These 'virginity tests' will spark Egypt's next revolution
posted by homunculus at 7:36 PM on June 2, 2011


AND SO
the monster was slayed; and all the villagers cheered as the lord's men hung its carcass in the square before the church. And then the young men went back to their chores and the girls returned to the castle, while their parents made ready for harvest. For autumn would soon be upon them; and every scrap must be gathered to pay the village tithes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:47 PM on June 2, 2011


Alleged Libyan rape victim deported from Qatar back to Libya

Witness: Alleged Libyan rape victim appears bruised after deportation
posted by homunculus at 9:06 AM on June 3, 2011


My only point is that we have a heinous enough problem of our own with soldiers committing rape before we start lecturing the Egyptians on their problem.

Let us first make sure that women have equal rights wherever we are typing from instead of castigating the puppet military of a barely functioning country for violating their women.


Man, it's like the Bizarro World version of "How can feminists complain about pay inequality/institutional sexism/gender policing when there are women in other countries being raped/disenfranchised/killed." It's not an either-or choice. Trying to solve one does not mean ignoring the other.

There's a sense that Egypt is in a particularly precarious position right now. History has shown that the faction that comes into power following unrest can make a pretty significant difference in the rights that people are afforded. Condemning the military for its treatment of women and supporting an alternative faction right now could really be the difference between a progressive Egypt or a corrupt, unsafe Egypt.

The fact that virginity tests took place speak more about how Egyptian culture views women in general than specific politics. This happened, and large swaths of the populace think that's totally cool.

I don't really see evidence that the general public finds it acceptable. The women who spoke out about this are Egyptian. The people--men and women--who joined in the protests of the virginity tests are Egyptian. I don't think it's fair to make sweeping generalizations that their culture is somehow inferior or wrong to our own (which, as has been amply pointed out, has its own problems.)
posted by kagredon at 2:15 AM on June 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Syrian blogger Amina Abdallah kidnapped by armed men
posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on June 6, 2011


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