“Women are being forced by their families, and their fiancé’s families, to provide a certificate of virginity from a doctor or clinician before their wedding day.”

Halaleh Taheri
MEWSo Founder and Executive Director

Ban Virginity Tests

What is a Virginity Test?
Why ban it?

A virginity test is a method used to check if a girl or woman is a virgin. Two fingers are put inside her vagina to see if her hymen is intact.
 
Everybody deserves the right to be in charge of their own body. A ban would stop this incredibly invasive procedure being forced on women and girls most would not submit to if they truly had a choice. It is also unnecessary because the science behind virginity tests is bogus. There is no scientific method to prove a woman's virginity.

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Facts About The Hymen

  • The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. They come in different shapes and sizes and change as a girl gets older.

  • When something is inserted into the vagina the hymen may tear.

  • However, a hymen can be broken in any number of ways other than sex: running, playing sports, vigorous exercise, riding a bike, using a tampon or simply falling over.

  • A hymen can be broken by undergoing a virginity test!

  • Or, it can remain unbroken even after sex, as many hymens, rather like a rubber band, stretch rather than break.

  • Some women are even  born without a hymen.

  • And, only 50% of women's hymens bleed the first time they are broken.

  • The many different hymens and how they respond means virginity tests are pseudoscience, a fraud, a scam. There is no way to prove, scientifically, a girl or woman's virginity.

Facts About Virginity Tests

  • The intimate nature of these tests can cause women and girls great anguish and severe distress.

  • Being unnecessary, these tests are sexual abuse.

  • As pseudoscience, they do not need to be carried out by a trained medical professional.

  • Being told that you've 'failed' a test can have severe consequences for the woman: violence, sexual assault, rejection from the family, banishment from the community, or worse, being killed.

  • A 'failed' test can also force a woman to pay for hymen repair surgery, or hymen repair kits, sold by the same clinic that declared that she 'failed' the virginity test! 

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) says these tests are a violation of: women's rights;  the rights of the child; the right to be free from torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment; the right to be protected from discrimination based on one's sex; the rights to privacy and physical integrity; the right to the highest attainable standards of health, and the right to life.

  • Encouraging, pressuring or forcing a girl or woman to take a test can be the first signs of controlling and abusive behaviour in the home.

“In many conservative communities, women should be virgins when marrying their husbands. If it is found that a woman has lost her virginity before marriage, the consequences can be dire.”

Halaleh Taheri,

MEWSo Founder and Executive Director 

We Can Help

  • Help you recognise controlling and abusive behaviour

  • Advise you of your rights

  • Support you if you refuse to take the test

  • Support you if you need to get away

If you, or a friend, is in a controlling or abusive situation in the home and need help

Call: 07579 801 366
Email: office@mewso.org

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and speak to the police.

Our Campaign

  • To have virginity tests banned.

  • For it to be illegal to write, sign,  issue paperwork or certificates, or give verbal or physical indications as to the result of a virginity test.

  • For it to be a criminal offence for clinics, health professionals, parents, guardians, family or community members to instigate a virginity test - even if the subject of the test 'agrees'.

For the Government, NHS, health professionals, local authorities and others to: 

  • Educate staff, children and communities to dispel the myths about the hymen. 

  • Educate that a woman's value does not begin and end with her virginity.

  • Explain the very real physical and psychological damage virginity tests do to girls and women.

  • Include these issues in sex education classes in schools.

  • Promote and defend equal rights for women to choose their own sexual path.

The Virginity Industry

Virginity testing is a long-standing practice in the UK. In the 1970s it was reportedly carried out by immigration officials on women arriving from the Indian sub-continent to marry their British-Asian fiancés. 

 

Now, exclusively carried out by private clinics the extent to which virginity testing goes on in the UK is unknown. However, a BBC Newsbeat investigation in 2020 identified at least 21 clinics in London offering such tests, as well as hymen repair surgery, costing between £1,500-£3,000, should the girl or woman 'fail' the test. A similar investigation was also conducted by The Sunday Times which read “‘Restoring virgins’ is a big earner for British surgeons.

In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called on governments; health professionals and their associations; international, regional and national health agencies, and communities to end virginity tests.

MEWSo's conference on virginity testing & hymen repair surgery, May 2021. Conference speakers included sister charities also campaigning for a ban, medical experts, politicians and women who have endured such procedures.