Egypt MP referred to ethics committee after calling for 'virginity test' for university students

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 4 Oct 2016

MP Ilhami Agina demanded that girls must ‎undergo a 'virginity test' in order to be ‎admitted to university

Egyptian students
A file photo of Egyptian students at Cairo University. (Photo:AFP)

The speaker of Egypt’s parliament Ali Abdel-Al referred on Tuesday maverick ‎independent MP Ilhami Agina to ‎the ethics committee for investigation after Agina said that any woman who wishes to join ‎university must first undergo a virginity test.

Agina, an MP from the Nile Delta governorate ‎of Daqahliya, had said in a press interview last ‎week that "this measure is necessary to ‎stem the tide of Urfi marriages on campuses."

Urfi marriages – civil unions that do not require official registration with the state – though legal, are often considered improper by many in Egyptian society due to their usually secretive nature.

Abdel-Al told MPs in a plenary session ‎Tuesday he made the decision to refer Agina to the ethics committee “after I received many ‎complaints against MP Agina in the last few ‎days.”

Abdel-Al's announcement came after MP ‎Salah Hassaballah, the head of the Freedom ‎Party, seized the morning session to accuse ‎Agina of directing ‎‎"grave insults to Egyptian women and ‎society and offensive remarks against ‎its deep-rooted traditions and values."

"Article ‎‎20 of parliament's internal bylaws is clear that ‎MPs who issue remarks against society's ‎religious, moral and social values should ‎face investigation before the House's ethics ‎committee," said Hassaballah.‎

Hassaballah argued that "MP Agina has so ‎far issued five statements and remarks that ‎were all offensive to Egyptian society and ‎its conservative values and as a result I and ‎many of my colleagues ask that he be ‎referred to the ethics committee."‎

Youssri El-Moghazi, another MP from the ‎Daqahliya, told MPs in Tuesday's session ‎"I am sorry to ‎say that a colleague MP used my phone to ‎tell the media that I support Agina's remarks ‎and this is a big lie."

MP Mona ‎Mounir Rizk told Ahram Online that the pro-government ‎parliamentary bloc Support Egypt has officially filed a complaint with speaker Abdel-Al, demanding ‎that Agina be referred to the ethics ‎committee.

The ‎official complaint, signed by around 200 MPs, ‎accuses Agina of repeatedly making offensive ‎remarks and statements that represent a ‎violation of society's conservative values, not ‎to mention they direct open insults to women ‎in Egypt, and lead to tarnishing the image of ‎the country's parliament.‎

The complaint said "Agina's statement on ‎virginity tests were not the first in a list of ‎shocking remarks."

"Agina has previously ‎accused female MPs of wearing seductive ‎dress, rejected the new law that made genital ‎female mutilation a felony by arguing that this law would cause harm to Egyptian ‎men who are sexually weak."

"Agina also ‎asked that penalties against adultery be stiffened under the claim that Egyptian ‎women are the main reason behind the ‎proliferation of these crimes."‎

The complaint, written by Rizk, said ‎Agina's most recent comment "directs a big ‎insult not only to university women, but to all ‎Egyptian families, not to mention that it ‎violates society's deep-rooted conservative ‎manners and traditions."

“What made things worse is that ‎the Western media showed a lot of interest in ‎covering Agina's shocking statements in a ‎sensational way and as if they reflect the ‎official viewpoint of the Egyptian parliament, ‎which is the voice of the Egyptian people.”

As a result, the complaint said, ‎‎"we – the major political coalition in Egypt's ‎parliament – recommend that you refer MP ‎Ilhami Agina to the ethics committee to be ‎investigated, taking into account that the ‎National Council for Women has also lodged ‎a complaint against MP Agina with ‎the prosecutor-general, asking that Agina be ‎questioned on the charge of directing insults ‎to Egyptian women, society and parliament."‎

The complaint was corroborated with ‎documents listing all of‎ Agina's controversial statements. ‎

The newly-elected head of the ‎‎Support Egypt coalition ‎Mohamed El-Sewedi told reporters that he is ‎in favour of referring Agina to the ethics ‎committee.

"His statement was a direct insult ‎to Egyptian women and society and I vow ‎that he will be referred to the ethics ‎committee to be disciplined," said El-Sewedi.‎

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