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Egypt prisons using ‘systemic sexual violence’ on detainees

Sexual violence against detainees in Egypt is “systemic”, according to a report by The Egyptian Front for Human Rights and Freedom released on Thursday.

The rights group, based in the Czech Republic, monitored 655 cases of sexual violence against detainees and their families occurring between 2015 and 2022 by security personnel and staff in Egypt prisons.

The study found that authorities violated human rights in police stations, prisons and detention centres, and used “sexual violence as a means of physical and moral coercion on detainees, and to punish citizens and control their bodies”, according to the report.

قالت الجبهة المصرية لحقوق الإنسان ومبادرة الحرية في تقرير جديد صدر يوم الخميس إن أفراد الأمن وعاملي السجون في مصر ينتهكون حقوق الإنسان في أماكن الاحتجاز المختلفة باستخدام العنف الجنسي الممنهج ضد المعتقلين وعائلاتهم. 1/7https://t.co/qidO8NVY3L
— Egyptian Front for Human Rights (@egyptian_front) April 7, 2022

“From the moment of arrest, there is no guarantee that you will not be exposed to sexual violence inside Egyptian places of detention,” said Amr Ahmed, research director at the rights organisation.

“It is unfortunate that security personnel and prison staff are willing to use sexual violence with the aim of humiliation and torture”.

Researchers interviewed survivors, family members, and lawyers, and reviewed cases of sexual assault that were reported to prosecutors.

Egypt’s notorious National Security Agency has had cases filed against it for sexual violence, where victims were subjected to harassment, rape, and electric shocks to their genitals with the aim of extracting confessions that were often false, the report said.

Female prisoners are particularly vulnerable to abuse, the report added, although it had documented cases among men and even children as young as 12.

Families of detainees have also fallen victim to sexual abuse and violence during prison and detention visits.

Perpetrators are often not held accountable for their crimes, the report found, despite the abuses being documented by government officials.

In order to pursue a complaint, the report said, victims need to identify their perpetrator, present evidence of their assault, and even to provide a location and date of abuse. These requirements are almost impossible, as victims are often blindfolded when they are abused.

Government officials have dismissed and denied claims of systematic sexual assault.

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