‘Virginity testing’: a human rights violation, with no scientific basis – UN

WHO End Virignity Testing Infographic.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

A group of United Nations agencies has issued a joint statement calling for a ban on tests meant to assess the virginity of a girl or a woman, which is a common practice in at least 20 countries.

The statement, which was issued during the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) in Rio de Janeiro, stresses that such tests are both unscientific, and a violation of human rights.

So-called “virginity testing” – also often referred to as hymen, “two-finger” or per vaginal examination – is a gynecological 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 Human Rights Office (OHCHR), UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO), 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, 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”, as the “appearance of girl’s or woman’s hymen cannot prove whether they have had sexual intercourse or are sexually active or not”.

In addition, the UN agencies denounce virginity testing as a violation of the rights of girls and women, which can be detrimental to their physical, psychological and social well-being. The examination can be “painful, humiliating and traumatic” and reinforces stereotyped notions of female sexuality and gender inequality.

In some regions, it is common for health professionals to perform virginity testing on victims of rape, supposedly to ascertain whether or not rape occurred. Given the lack of clinical basis, the procedure is deemed “unnecessary” and “can cause pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, exacerbating survivors’ sense of disempowerment and cause re-victimisation,” said the agencies.

“The result of this unscientific test can impact upon judicial proceedings, often to the detriment of victims and in favour of perpetrators, sometimes resulting in perpetrators being acquitted,” the statement added.

“Given that these procedures are unnecessary and potentially harmful, it is unethical for doctors or other health providers to undertake them. Such procedures must never be carried out,” the joint statement read, calling for a collaborative response across societies, supported by the public health community and all health professionals.

“Health professionals can be great agents for change,“ said Dr. Princess Nothema Simelela, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

“With support from health systems and governments, they can recognise that ‘virginity testing’ has no medical or clinical bases, refuse to carry out the harmful practice, and educate the public about this,” she noted, adding that that, in doing so, they would be “upholding the Hippocratic oath of ‘do no harm’ and safeguarding the human rights of girls and women in their care”.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief condemns deadly terrorist attack on church in southern Philippines

EU Telecoms deal: Fees on calls across the EU capped and 5G network by 2020

Summertime Consultation: 84% want Europe to stop changing the clock

Collaboration: the key to success in the digital economy

Australia needs to intensify efforts to meet its 2030 emissions goal

Top UN officials strongly condemn ‘horrible terrorist act’ in Nairobi

Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, according to the EP

Gaza: deadly violence continues to escalate, top UN officials work to restore calm

Italy’s rescue operation Mare Nostrum shuts down with no real replacement. EU’s Triton instead might put lives at risk

UN agencies call for more resettlement and end to detention of asylum seekers in Libya

On European immigration: Europe’s Missing Citizens

A day in the life of a refugee: why should we care?

EU Commission: Growth first then fiscal consolidation

5 lessons for social entrepreneurs on how to change the system

Somalis ‘will not be deterred’ by Friday’s terror attacks – UN chief

EU Banks still get subsidies from impoverished citizens

What meat consumption has brought to the environment and how herbal diets can help human health

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

Food supply chain: A step closer to ending unfair trading

“Be aware where you put your I Agree signature on and something else”; now Facebook by default opts you in an unseen private data bazar

FROM THE FIELD: Enslaved Guatemalan indigenous women wait for reparations

Every bite of burger boosts harmful greenhouse gases: UN Environment Agency

Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

Facebook has built an AI-based tool that fixes the social network when it crashes

Dramatic drop in South Sudan political violence since peace agreement signing

A Sting Exclusive: “Change is challenge, change is opportunity”, Commissioner Bienkowska cries out live from European Business Summit 2015

New Report Offers Global Outlook on Efforts to Beat Plastic Pollution

UN chief hopes for new agreement after Israel concludes international observation mission

UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, ‘a guiding force for good’

A Valentine’s Special: we can never overdose on love

‘We will not give up on looking for peace for South Sudan’: UN deputy chief

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

UN chief welcomes start of Church-mediated national dialogue in Nicaragua

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part II)

Italian electoral results to change Eurozone climate and weight on the Cyprus issue

When it comes to envirotech adoption, NGOs can lead us out of the woods

COP21 Paris: The Final Agreement Adopted-full text

‘Collective endeavour’ needed to strengthen peacekeeping further, says top UN official

The European Commission cuts roaming charges. But “it’s not enough”…

UN refugee agency ‘deeply shocked’ at stabbing death of ‘deeply courageous’ Polish mayor

World Cancer Day: Early cervical cancer diagnosis could save lives of over 300,000 women

TTIP wins Merkel’s endorsement ahead of 2016 tough deadline

A Sting Exclusive, the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger writes for the Sting on “EU Industry: a major energizer”

Fisherwomen of Lake Chad show optimism in face of multiple challenges

What is the UN General Assembly and what does it do?

Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court

France is building a village for people with Alzheimer’s

Deep chasm still divides Athens and Brussels; can Eurozone use the nuclear arm of liquidity against Greece?

7 amazing ways artificial intelligence is used in healthcare

European Union disenchanted with Turkey

European Junior Enterprise Network – Ready to take the Step Into the Future?

EU-US trade talks go ahead despite Prism and civil rights breach

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will impact young people’s future the most

Mass-graves found of at least 535 killed during ‘organized and planned’ inter-communal attacks in western DR Congo

Bangladesh elections: Hold those responsible accountable for ‘violent attacks and intimidation’

FIAT Chrysler: from Geneva Motor show to the World, and back

Parliament sets up plan to fight the 3,600 criminal rings of EU

“If they think they can slave an entire nation, then they will just have the opposite results!”, Alexis Tsipras cries out from the Greek parliament

Address by the President Antonio Tajani at the funeral of Nicole Fontaine

Do men and women really have different leadership styles?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s