Virginity testing is an unscientific and a medically unsound procedure that has become the order of the day in over 20 countries including Nigeria. Some few months ago, the United Nations in collaboration with World Health Organization launched a campaign to curb and prevent virginity testing in some countries. Virginity testing entails evaluating the hymen of girls or women to ascertain if they have ever had sexual intercourse or not. One of the archaic ways used to check is the “two-fingers per vagina”. The test which, beside being very painful, traumatic, medically unnecessary and humiliating, is a form of violence against women and girls as well as a violation of their Human Rights as enshrined in the Constitution. I have asked myself several questions on how hymen has now become an indicator of virginity. Let me share a short story on virginity testing that might fascinate you.
It took place in the school clinic while I was on a routine check; a parent was insisting that the doctor wanted to deflower her 17 year old daughter. The doctor replied that her daughter has been diagnosed of Imperforate Hymen, that’s why she hasn’t menstruated. “The absence of a hymen doesn’t make her any less a virgin; some are even born without it.” He tried to explain. The mother wasn’t satisfied, she was curious as to how her daughter who was 17 has never menstruated. The daughter had never discharged or ovulated and yet has a mass just below her abdomen which was burning. The scan had shown a fluid-like collection in the area concern.
“Madam on examination your daughter has Imperforate Hymen which means the hymen is blocking the vagina completely and so nothing from up can come down including her menses hence the reason for the fluid like collection below her abdomen” explained the Doctor.
The mother got furious, caused commotion in the clinic and shouted at the top of her voice about what will people say, about if that’s how her innocent daughter will lose her virginity and about what will happen on her first night when she gets married, considering whether her future husband would agree to this fact. At this point the Doctor asked the mother, which was more important to her; her daughter’s virginity or her daughter’s health? Should the accumulated fluid be removed or her hymen be left intact for a man who might not worth it at the end?
At that point I had to stop and ponder on what virginity really is.
Virginity is a woman’s pride and virginity until marriage is a choice and is endorsed in totality. But, virginity is not directly proportional to morality, or to hymen’s presence or absence. Young men looking for virgins to marry should take note of this as well as those advocating for virginity testing.
Every girl child is different and each has a different type of hymen i.e fimbriated, septate, Imperforate, as well as those that are completely absent.
A virgin is simply one who has never had sexual intercourse with anyone. If it were hymen dependent, men would have theirs too. Whether or not she is a virgin doesn’t matter and women shouldn’t be judged by a tiny inelastic material that could be snapped under light pressure.
Women shouldn’t be scared if they don’t bleed on their first night as it is perfectly normal because the hymen can be lost easily especially in women who engage in strenuous or sports activities.
Virginity testing is inhumane and infringes on the Human Rights of a girl child. It has no clinical or scientific significances either. And the presence or absence of a girl’s or woman’s hymen cannot prove whether or not they have had sexual intercourse. The practice is a violation of the Human Rights of girls and women, and can be dangerous to their physical, psychological and social well-being. The examination is humiliating and traumatic and these procedures are unnecessary, potentially harmful, and unethical.
Let’s JOIN HANDS AND END VIRGINITY TESTING while educating friends and families that the hymen’s presence or absence is not the true test of virginity.