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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Maya Oppenheim

‘Medieval’ so-called virginity repair surgery and testing set to be outlawed


So-called virginity tests and procedures claiming to repair the hymen at UK clinics are set to be made illegal in England and Wales.

Highly intrusive and potentially traumatic vaginal examinations to see if the hymen is intact are deemed a serious infringement of human rights by the United Nations.

The World Health Organisation says the practice is also a sham because the hymen can rip for a number of reasons such as using a tampon or doing exercise.

While health professionals warn hymenoplasty surgery has zero scientific basis as well as being invasive and inhumane.

Richard Holden, Conservative MP for North West Durham, brought in a clause to the Health and Care Bill that strives to outlaw so-called virginity tests and repair procedures.

Doctors or midwives carrying out the procedures could face jail time under the new measures.

Mr Holden told The Independent he was thrilled the “medieval procedures” were set to be outlawed and that the measure has gained the support of cross-party MPs.

“We are really happy to have people as diverse as Jeremy Hunt, former Health Secretary, Liz Saville Roberts, group leader of Plaid Cymru in the Commons, Meg Hillier, a Labour MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, a Conservative MP who specialises in women’s issues, supporting it,” the politician said.

Mr Holden warned young women and girls are being forced to have the procedures as he noted getting a virginity test is much too easy.

It comes after The Independent reported girls have been forced to endure so-called virginity tests at UK medical clinics - with campaigners and politicians calling for the practice to be stopped.

A recent BBC investigation discovered 21 clinics offering virginity testing in the UK - which were charging between £150 and £300.

Natasha Rattu, director of Karma Nirvana, a national charity which supports victims of honour-based abuse, previously The Independent they have encountered virginity testing in the work they do with survivors.

Ms Rattu added: “But it is definitely very hidden. It is a form of violence and abuse against women and girls. Victims are made to prove their virginity to be honourable and to be respected among family and the community. It is also about modesty and purity - women will not be viewed as pure if they have had relationships outside of marriage.

“We have had cases where victims have been asked to prove themselves after being seen with a boy and asked if they have had sexual relations.

“The evidence out there won’t reflect the scale of the problem because sexual abuse is hard for victims to talk about. Many of these girls aren’t taught to speak openly about things of a sexual nature.”

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