Parliamentary Question: Use of sexual violence as a counter-revolutionary instrument in North Africa and the Middle East


Parliamentary questions

31 March 2011 O-000083/2011   Question for oral answer to the Commission Rule 115 Marietje Schaake, Marielle De Sarnez, Antonyia Parvanova, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, on behalf of the ALDE Group Subject: Use of sexual violence as a counter-revolutionary instrument in North Africa and the Middle East  Women have actively participated in the uprisings for more democracy, rights and freedoms in North Africa and the Middle East. At the same time, the incumbent regimes have resorted to sexual assaults as part of the conflict in these revolutions, targeting women and, in particular, making them vulnerable. Recent examples demonstrating the systematic use of intimidation, degradation and targeting of women include the following cases. A Lebanese woman, Iman al-Obeidi, who told reporters in a Tripoli hotel about being gang-raped and abused by soldiers, was detained on 26 March in an unknown location and is now being sued for defamation by the men she is accusing of rape. In Egypt female protestors claim they were subjected to virginity tests by the military, having been rounded up from Tahrir Square on 9 March and subsequently subjected to torture and rape, while the virginity tests were performed and photographed in the presence of male soldiers. Some of the women will be tried before military courts. Can the Commission agree: – that the use of sexual assaults, intimidation and targeting of women must be rejected in the strongest possible terms? – that an independent inquiry must be established and that the perpetrators must be held accountable, with particular reference to the investigation of crimes committed by Gaddafi, under the terms of the International Criminal Court? – that everyone should be able to express their views on the democratic future of their country without being detained, tortured or subjected to degrading and discriminatory treatment? – that the role of women in the revolutions should be acknowledged, including the threats they face and the way in which they can defend their rights? – that there is a need to mainstream human rights and ENP policies and to actively share EU experience on gender violence and equality, as an integral part of the democratisation process? – that there is a need to safeguard women’s rights generally in the new democratic and legal structures of these societies?