France is now making it illegal for doctors to provide virginity certificates for traditional religious marriages. Though the practice isn’t common of French citizens and doctors say it’s uncommon, the migration of different cultures has reflected a great difference in how sexuality is understood.
Virginity tests come from a long line of myths and religious beliefs grounded in the preservation of a young woman’s “purity.” The test is used to determine whether a woman has had intercourse or not, mostly before marriage, whether she’d been raped or even if she qualifies for a job. In many North African and Middle Eastern countries like Indonesia and Egypt, the Islamic faith forbids sex before marriage. Many young girls receive harsh punishments for failure to pass the exam from imprisonment to physical abuse.
In 2018, 190 young girls were imprisoned for a failed virginity test in Afghanistan. In Morocco, women are often physically abused by their families if they do not show documented proof they are virgins to their husbands. In 18 more countries, the passing of the test measures the worth of a woman and may sometimes determine her well being.
Another line of misconception around virginity was influenced by an inherently patriarchal society that affects many countries outside the U.S. The societal bounds put on women keeps them restricted from exploring their sexuality or having power over their own bodies. The idea of purity has erupted into a narrow idea of how sex and the female anatomy works.
Many women’s bodies have been violated through hymen inspections. The World Health Organization found no evidence that the examination proves the possibility of intercourse. Doctors have said the hymen can be torn or stretched in many different ways other than penetration. Also, there is no one way to decide whether a woman had a sex for the first time or not.
Parents request for doctors to perform the test on their daughters. Doctors in France and surrounding European countries have begun refusing to perform the examination. However, for those who go through it it, young women are then subject to an invasion of privacy and a lack of power to make decisions on their body.
Women have been under pressure to please a point of view not invented by their own community. As men continue to abuse their power, women are often abused as a result. Sexuality has been stigmatized under the assumption that a woman’s sexual activity defines her. Though women in the U.S. don’t have to deal with the pressures to such an intense level, women around the world are still fighting for their freedom.
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