Sommaire: 7 April 2011, Brussels - The European Parliament has strongly denounced sexual assaults on women in Libya and Egypt as well as the forced "virginity tests" that have taken place in Egypt. Women's rights must be respected in the new democratic and legal structures of these societies, insist MEPs in a resolution adopted on Thursday.
Parliament points out that "women have actively participated in the uprisings for more democracy, rights and freedoms in North Africa and the Middle East" but that "the incumbent regimes in Libya and Egypt have resorted to sexual assaults as part of the conflict surrounding these revolutions".
MEPs call on the Commission and Member State governments "to strongly oppose the use of sexual assaults on, and intimidation and targeting of, women in Libya and Egypt". Parliament also "strongly condemns forced 'virginity tests' inflicted by the Egyptian army on women protesters arrested in Tahrir Square and considers this practice as unacceptable, as it amounts to a form of torture".
The case of a Libyan woman, Iman al-Obeidi, who told reporters in a Tripoli hotel about being gang-raped and abused by soldiers and is now being sued for defamation by the men she is accusing of rape is highlighted in the resolution, which was adopted by show of hands.
Parliament believes that "the changes taking place in North Africa and the Middle East must contribute towards the ending of discrimination against women and their full participation in society on equal terms with men".
Lastly, specific actions should be taken "with a view to achieving an effective and systematic equality approach in the ENP countries", say MEPs.