Tuesday 23rd November 2021, MP’s voted in favour of banning virginity testing in England. The ban was added to the Health and Care Bill in an amendment introduced by the government. This followed the announcement in the Home Office Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, published in July 2021, that the government support the ban of the harmful practice. Significantly the ban will have extra-territorial effect, meaning that it applies where women and girls are taken out of the country for virginity testing. The government are yet to confirm whether they support a ban of the connected harmful practice of hymenoplasty; they have committed to following the recommendations of an expert panel which is due to report to them before Christmas.

Diana Nammi, Executive Director, IKWRO- Women’s Rights Organisation says:

“We welcome this vital progress in tackling violence against women and girls, making it clear that the harmful practice of virginity testing will not be accepted. Crucially, with the extra-territorial reach of the new law, for which we have strongly advocated, it will also prohibit virginity testing from being exported. Coming just days after MP’s voted to ban the related harmful practice of child marriage, we are delighted that progress is being made in ending “honour” based abuse. It is now essential that the harmful practice of hymenoplasty, which is inextricably linked to virginity testing and often connected to child marriage, is also banned without delay. Sustained funding must be put in place for specialist organisations like IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation, to engage the community and young people in education to challenge the harmful notion that virginity is in any way a measure of a girl’s or woman’s worth
, tackle dangerous myths around virginity, educate professionals in best practice in tackling “honour” based abuse and to provide advice, advocacy, counselling and refuge to girls and women at risk.”

ENDS

About IKWRO 

IKWRO is a leading charity providing specialist support for women and girls of Middle Eastern, North African (MENA) and Afghan origin, who are at risk of “honour” based abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, child marriage, domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. We run a refuge and provide advice, advocacy, counselling and training and campaign to improve laws and policies. Our mission is to advance MENA and Afghan women’s and girls’ rights, combat discrimination and violence against women and girls, and empower women and girls to access their rights and entitlements in the UK. 

Payzee Mahmod and Diana Nammi are available for interview 

For media enquiries please contact Sara Browne, 07739308398 sara.browne@ikwro.org.uk  

Read more about IKWRO’s Virginity Does Not Define Me campaign here.

www.ikwro.org.uk @IKWRO

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