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Want to protest? Make sure you are a virgin!

A senior Egyptian general has admitted that "virginity checks" were conducted on women during a demonstration nearly a month after Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid a wave of popular uprising.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2011 02:02 IST

A senior Egyptian general has admitted that "virginity checks" were conducted on women during a demonstration nearly a month after Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak stepped down amid a wave of popular uprising.

The allegations of "virginity checks" arose in an Amnesty International report published weeks after the March 9 protest, that turned violent when men in plain clothes attacked demonstrators and the army had to intervene to clear the Tahrir Square, the epicentre of anti-Mubarak protest.

The Amnesty report claimed women demonstrators were beaten, given electric shocks, strip-searched, threatened with prostitution charges and forced to submit to virginity checks.

At that time, Maj Amr Imam said 17 women had been arrested but denied allegations of torture or "virginity tests."

But now a senior general, on the condition of anonymity, told CNN that the virginity tests were conducted. "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)."

The general, however, defended the practise saying the checks were done so that the women wouldn't later claim they had been raped by Egyptian security personnel. "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," he said.

"None of them were (virgins)."

Salwa Hosseini, a 20-year-old hairdresser and one of the women named in the Amnesty report, described to CNN how uniformed soldiers tied her up on the museum's grounds, forced her to the ground and slapped her, then shocked her with a stun gun while calling her a prostitute.

The senior Egyptian general said the 149 people detained after the March 9 protest were subsequently tried in military courts, and most have been sentenced to a year in prison.

Authorities later revoked those sentences "when we discovered that some of the detainees had university degrees, so we decided to give them a second chance," he said.