An international human rights group has accused Egyptian security forces of using sexual violence on a massive scale against anti-government detainees to “eliminate public protest.”
The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said in a report released on Tuesday that there has been a surge in sexual violence carried out by police and military officials since the army ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
“But since July 3, 2013, it has been clear that they also target children, women, young girls and older people of both sexes,” the report read.
According to the rights group, sexual violence has been carried out indiscriminately at checkpoints, entrances to universities, and at detention centers during security checks.
The group highlighted cases in which women, arrested during protests, were “regularly subjected to sexual violence and other abuses,” including having their scarves pulled off and being dragged along the ground.
Egyptian women have also been arbitrarily detained and used as bargaining tools by security forces in order to get their husbands or fathers to confess to a crime.
Among the cases mentioned was the wife of a detainee who was taken to a police station, where her husband was held, and then beaten in front of him.
“They tried to rape me. My husband begged them to leave me alone, shouting, ‘let her go, I’m going to talk.’ They said to him, ‘speak first and we’ll let her go after,’” the detainee’s wife said.
FIDH said that victims who file complaints of abuse are systematically hindered by the justice system and face threats as well as reprisals by security forces.
The rights group called on Egyptian authorities to publicly censure all sexual violence and to ensure that victims have access to justice.
President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, who led Morsi’s ouster, said last year that fighting sexual violence is a priority. However, reports published later showed Egyptian authorities have failed to stop, investigate, and penalize violence against females and there is a lack of justice, compensation or even support for the victims.