Virginity Testing is an inspection of a girl’s or woman’s genitalia meant to determine whether she has had vaginal intercourse. It is a violation of human rights and an abusive, misogynistic practice akin to sexual abuse with immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to physical, psychological and social well-being. The threat of virginity testing is used to control women’s sexual autonomy. It completely lacks scientific merit for identifying virginity.

IKWRO has supported women who have undergone virginity testing in private clinics and who have been examined by relatives or acquaintances, in each case this amounts to abuse. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations are calling for virginity testing to be banned globally. WHO recognises the relationship between virginity testing and “honour” based abuse; ‘in some settings, “failing” a virginity test is perceived to bring dishonour and shame to the individual’s family and community, and may result in punishment. Documented forms of punishment include being beaten, starved or sexually assaulted, including by gang rape, or even murdered. Murders are known as “honour killings”, and are often carried out by male relatives who believe the girl or woman who failed the virginity test brought shame to their family. An unfavourable result may also lead to familial and societal condemnation and banishment from the community.’

Hymenoplasty, also known as Hymen Repair or Re-virginisation, is form of vaginal surgery, carried out to give the impression that the girl or woman is a virgin. Although a girl or woman may express consent for the surgery, the fact that she will feel pressured to undergo it due to the fear of the consequences of not being thought to be a virgin, means that the apparent consent should be considered to be given under duress. It should be seen as a major red flag that she is at risk of further “honour” based abuse and that safeguarding is needed. Supporting hymenoplasty reaffirms the harmful “honour” codes and undermines the relationship of trust with the girl or woman. Although it has been argued that it is akin to a form of Female Genital Mutilation, prior to law change in 2022, the hymenoplasty procedure was offered by a number of private clinics.

There is no medical, physical or psychological justification for hymenoplasty, conversely, it carries physical, social and psychological risks, including the long-term implications of living with feelings of perceived shame.

IKWRO’s Virginity Does Not Define Me campaign challenges the false and harmful notion that virginity is in any way a measure of a girl’s or woman’s worth. The campaign tackles dangerous myths around virginity and calls for a ban of the harmful practices of virginity testing and hymenoplasty, which perpetuate patriarchal and misogynistic norms, cause trauma and can trigger “honour” based abuse. Read more about our campaign here

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