Naked, against the wall, in a dark cell that can’t hide her body and that exposes it to anyone wanting to see it and touch it. This is Salwa’s situation in the world. Alone. A few hours ago she was in Tahrir Square (it’s almost spring and the revolution brings with it the scent of freedom and blood), and now she’s somewhere in the Museum of Antiquities with her back marked by whipping, with her face numb from the electric shocks, her legs sore and her mind far, far away from where the soldiers have reminded her who’s in charge. Whore! The most painful blow. Eighteen virgins, who would have said so!
Next: get onto the lorry, get off the lorry, go into the police station, take your clothes off. Here’s a stick and here’s a sweet... One way or the other you’re going to take the exam. Where’s Moustafa? Now just under the skin. But not so far in. Sharkeya’s a long way way, and Aswan’s even farther, the Abu Simbel of the tourists; a not very familiar father, a penniless family, a handicapped brother, too much of a burden for your 20 years. Where were you? In the hairdresser’s teaching your boss’s wife so that they can get rid of you? Spending the night at some friend’s home and waiting for things to get better? Looking for work at an agency, without papers, without ID, without a penny in your pocket? Where were you, Egyptian woman? In a cell, with 17 virgins. Who cares if they were or not. In a cell, naked. Alone. Tears of blood and purity bathe your body that de es those who doubt and cries out to them to put their nger in the wound. They’ll become saints. Unbelievers.
But the exam is waiting, the passage is cold and the stretchers exposed. One by one the nymphs are humiliated by an army that doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know or understand anything about humans or rights. You take a deep breath, you close your eyes. Those immense, powerful eyes. You don’t know what you’re thinking: about Sharkeya, about Moustafa, about why you’ve fought for this revolution, about Tahrir, about freedom. Freedom to come and go as you like. To be a virgin and not to be one. To not have to prove it. You’ll take off your hijab... The doctor’s