• Live
    • Audio Only
  • google plus
  • facebook
  • twitter
News > World

UN Agencies Call for End to 'Virginity Testing'

  • A protester holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi July 2009

    A protester holds a placard during a protest in New Delhi July 2009 | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 October 2018

Virginity testing, deemed unethical and medically unsound, is practiced in 20 countries.

U.N. agencies are calling for an end to virginity testing in the 20 countries where it is documented. The practice is meant to detect whether a girl or a woman is a virgin through invasive gynecological exams.

UN Women: Argentina Can 'Do Better' Against Femicides

The tests, performed by doctors, police officers, or community leaders, are used to determine marriage eligibility, employment eligibility, and to assess the "virtue, honor or social value" of women and girls.

There is no scientific basis to the tests and the procedure violates the medical ethical code, or Hippocratic Oath, of ‘do no harm’ according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and U.N. Women said in a report about virginity tests, states that those at greatest risk are survivors of sexual assault, rape, and “women prisoners and those in detention facilities (including political activists)” who are “at heightened risk of abuse and mistreatment, including forced virginity examinations.” The test itself can “mimic the original act of sexual violence, exacerbating survivors’ sense of disempowerment and cause re-victimization.”

The practice has been documented in 20 countries including Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Zimbabwe.

U.N. agencies are calling for governments to implement legislation that would ban the practice and prosecute anyone who violates the law. They also urge health professionals to be up-to-date on the latest evidence on virginity testing and to refuse to carry out the procedure.

“Health professionals can be great agents for change,” says Dr. Nothema Simelela, assistant director-general for family, women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health for the WHO. “With support from health systems and governments, they can … refuse to carry out the harmful practice, and educate the public about this.”

Post with no comments.