The 17 virgins of the Nile : On Egypt’s virginity checks

There is a very old wound in me/ between my legs/Where I’ve bled, not to birth pueblos or revolutionary Concepts or simple sucking children/But a memory/Of some ancient /betrayal.

Cherrie Moraga, “loving in the war years”, 1983

“We did not agree for a male doctor to perform the test,” she said. But Hosseini said her captors forced her to comply by threatening her with more stun-gun shocks.

“I was going through a nervous breakdown at that moment,” she recalled. “There was no one standing during the test, except for a woman and the male doctor. But several soldiers were standing behind us watching the backside of the bed. I think they had them standing there as witnesses.”

I’ve been told that war is one but that it could be performed in more than one way. Governments, militaries, people and any type of a brotherhood standing together to conquer, defend and protect could commit it. I’ve been also told that during war, my body stands up to its proclaimed value. Once captured by the enemy, it becomes a body of higher value; it becomes a bullet shot perfectly towards the target. Once any clash breaks out, once in danger, once taking a walk back home after dark, I remember that I carry within me a body that transforms under these circumstances into matter of a higher value.

They didn’t ask for a male doctor. They didn’t ask for a male doctor. They probably asked for another doctor, they asked for a woman’s hand, hoping that as it reaches el 7ata di, she would be more tender, and that she  would respectfully perform the procedure, them knowing but also not knowing that there was always safety in a woman touching another woman, some of our wounds by instinct recognize their healers. The captors knew what war means, had to ask it from a male doctor, because women’s vaginas have always been a battleground.  The women’s bodies laid down, the male doctor who didn’t have their consent, and despite a clear rejection he broke into their wounds. The bodies cannot recognize a male from a male doctor under such circumstances, they can only recognize and feel: predator.

“3erd” is my body belonging to a “culture”. “3ard” is width, a performance, and an offer. 3erd was once used to describe the good deeds of our ancestors, and it also referred to body odors, being it sweet or sour. That was before our language was mutilated, before it became foreign on our tongues. Once rich, now it’s brittle and wronged. “3ard” became “3erd, the meaning was manipulated, like those bodies, it became a captive. It shifted from a scent remembered or praise sent towards an ancestor to a body as a captive. 3ard now captures my body and also a certain width, a performance, and an offer.

Ta7t, the doctor had to check ta7t, was he looking for a certain width, did he touch their bodies as corpses are touched? Did it matter to him that they were alive and breathing, did it matter to him that the pulse of the rapid rapid heart beats could be felt down there. I don’t assume the stun-gun shots disrupts fear from the body, nor does it eliminate the feeling of an undesired object ( be it a hand) ta7t. The soldiers stood, she says, watching the back of the bed. The soldiers stood, witnessing another type of war perpetuated on women’s bodies, but because it is a war that doesn’t put out a show, it’s a silent one and done on bodies that only have value within the performance itself, and its victories are usually celebrated within and individually, exactly like how rape is an incident on it own, and according to them it doesn’t connect with anything that is systematic and socialized: what these women had to go through is an isolated incident having nothing to do with war on women bodies. The soldiers stood standing (protecting), while the male “doctor” took them, one after the other.


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