It’s 2012, but you would not know that in Iraq, where women still regularly face court-ordered virginity tests the outcome of which can cost them their lives, according to news reports.
The tests are meant to prove the women were virgins until marriage, which can be a matter of life or death in the Middle East, where premarital sex by women is seen as dishonoring the family and sometimes leads to a male relative murdering the offending female.
Evidently, these medieval tortures are done in India, where they are still burning widows in some areas, and also in Turkey, Egypt and likely other countries where the virginal state of girls is considered their most important attribute, even before giving birth, cooking, cleaning and serving their husbands like slaves, which comes afterwards.
I guess in some places they’re misreading the calendar and think it’s 1012, and believe women aren’t fit to perform those functions unless virginal until marriage.
Don’t you just wish you were born a female in the Arab world?
An average of several virginity tests are performed daily at the Medical Legal Institute in Baghdad, according to reports, “in a small windowless room with blue-tiled walls and a black table with leg stirrups at one end.”
Makes the hair on you arms stand up, doesn’t it?
Other equipment, reports note, “includes a white scope on a wheeled stand and a bright white light, also on wheels, near the end of the table.”
A doctor at this torture chamber says most cases are sent to them by the courts after the first night of marriage when a husband claims his bride is not a virgin because there’s no blood on the sheets in the morning. Even some of the doctors quoted in news reports said they realize this indicates less about the virginity of brides and more about the ignorance of their husbands.
The unfortunate accused woman’s hymen is examined, but the husband may also be tested for impotency to make sure he isn’t making the accusation to cover up his own erectile dysfunction, according to news reports.
Well, at least that. I wonder how many young women died to cover her groom’s embarrassment before they figured that out.
Test results go directly to the courts, and not the victims, the reports note.
Most of the test results exonerate the woman, but the test itself is humiliating, the doctors reportedly admit.
However, in Iraqi society, this is considered a civilized alternative, compared to the executions that used to face women who did not bleed onto their wedding night sheets, the story notes.
“The test, which takes between 15 and 30 minutes, is carried out by three doctors, at least one of them a woman, and the results are certified by two others,” according to one story.
And woe to the woman proven nonvirginal, for “there is no law that protects her,” it says.
That unfortunate woman’s family is required to compensate the husband “for gifts, money and other expenditures related to the relationship,” the story notes, and then, I suppose, family members are free to murder her.
Human rights groups’ officials, naturally, say the whole virginity test thing is ineffectual, not to mention barbaric, and should stop.
“Even if it were legitimate to look at whether women were virgins for whatever reason, which it’s not, you can’t use a virginity test for that, because the hymen might break for any reason,” a spokesperson for one such group is quoted saying.
Some are working to get the Iraqi government to ban the practice.
Good luck with that.
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