Testing girls for virginity violates their human rights, says UN

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A group of United Nations agencies has issued a joint statement calling for a ban on tests meant to assess the virginity of any female.

The statement, issued during the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Brazil, stressed that such tests are both unscientific, and a violation of human rights. The UN agencies are: the UN Human Rights Office, UN Women and the World Health Organisation.

The group said, “so-called virginity testing also often referred to as hymen, two-fingers or per vaginal examination is a gynaecological inspection of female genitalia carried out in the false belief that it can reliably determine whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse’.

In a global call to eliminate violence against women and girls everywhere, the UN agencies said that “this medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice, must end.”

The practice is a long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, and spanning all regions of the world. Women and girls are often forced to undergo virginity testing for various reasons, including requests from parents or potential partners to establish marriage eligibility or even from potential employers.

It is mostly performed by doctors, police officers, or community leaders on women and girls, in order to assess their virtue, honour or social value. In their statement, the UN agencies explained that the practice has “no scientific or clinical basis” and that “there is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex.”

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