KARACHI: Several United Nation agencies, namely the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nation Human Rights Office and UN Women have issued a joint statement calling for a ban on the archaic practice of virginity testing, also referred to as hymen, “two-finger” or per vaginal examination, that currently takes place in several countries across the world, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Libya, Malawi, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe.
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In Pakistan, the test is used to determine whether a woman has been raped or not. According to Dawn, the test involves inserting two fingers into the vagina of the victim in order to determine whether or not she is “habituated to sexual intercourse”.
The statement was issued during the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) in Rio de Janeiro and it stresses upon the need to do away with it as its a gross violation of human rights.
The detailed statement points to the fact that the examination “has no scientific merit or clinical indication – the appearance of a hymen is not a reliable indication of intercourse and there is no known examination that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse.”
The agencies also pointed out that the procedure “can cause pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, exacerbating survivors’ sense of disempowerment and cause re-victimisation.”
The statement is seen as a welcome move by many.