Virginity Tests Are ILLEGAL

“But women continue to be 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

 

What is a Virginity Test?
Why is it illegal?

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.
 
As the first organisation to campaign against virginity tests in 2019, MEWSo recognised that everybody deserves the right to be in charge of their own body. It is now against the law to force this incredibly invasive procedure onto women and girls who would not submit to it if they could choose for themselves. It is also unnecessary because the science behind virginity testing is bogus. There is NO scientific method to definitively 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 torn in any number of ways other than penetrative sex: running, playing sports, vigorous exercise, riding a bike, using a tampon or simply falling over.

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

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

  • Some women can even be  born without a hymen.

  • And, only 50% of women bleed the first time their hymen is torn.

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

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 reconstructive 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.”

"These tests are physically and mentally harmful to women and girls. And no woman would choose to do such a thing to herself. 

They are abusive, degrading and misogynistic.

All in the name of tradition."

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.

  • We successfully fought to get virginity tests banned.

  • It is now illegal to write, sign,  issue paperwork or certificates, or give verbal or physical indications as to the result of a virginity test.

  • It is 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'.

But we are still campaigning for Government, the NHS, health professionals, local authorities and others to: 

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

  • Emphasise 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.

Virginity Tests & Hymen Repair Surgeries are now ILLEGAL.
Read MEWSo's response and watch our video

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.

Watch the film 'Like A Virgin' about the Virginity Industry made by MEWSo's Natasha Feroze.

 

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.