Test or Examination for Virginity

Evidence-Based Guiding Note

What exactly is virginity testing?

The inspection of the female genitalia to determine if the examinee has had or has become accustomed to sexual intercourse is known as ‘virginity testing.’ Some tribes conduct ‘virginity testing’ to determine which women or girls are ‘virgins’ (i.e. have not had sexual intercourse). As part of the sexual assault examination of female rape survivors, some medical practitioners perform ‘virginity testing.’

The two most popular ‘virginity testing’ procedures are visual inspection of the hymen for size or rips and two-finger vaginal insertion. The goal of the latter is to assess the size of the introitus or the laxity of the vaginal wall, as well as the existence of the hymen, which is a thin membrane in the vaginal entrance that some cultures believe remains intact until women have sexual intercourse. However, research suggests that this form of testing may not give reliable findings since the existence and characteristics of the hymen vary from woman to woman and the membrane can rupture or stretch during daily activities other than sexual intercourse.

 

What are the consequences of ‘Virginity Testing’?

‘Virginity testing’ causes physical, physiological and social harm.

Physical harm: In the case of survivors of abuse, ‘virginity exams’ may cause physical injury to the women and girls being evaluated, including worsening existing injuries. Harm may also come from family who, as a result of a perceived ‘failed’ test, may harm or murder the lady or girl in the sake of ‘honour.’ As a result of the ‘virginity testing,’ some women or girls have self-harmed or tried suicide.

Psychological harm: Women and girls who have had ‘virginity tests’ have reported tremendous dread and anxiety before the test, as well as shouting, weeping, and fainting during the exam. Women and girls have also experienced long-term repercussions such as self-hatred, loss of self-esteem, depression, a sense of invasion of privacy, and re-victimization (for survivors of sexual assault).

Social harm: ‘Virginity testing’ is frequently connected with damaging traditional and cultural traditions that subject women and girls to stigma, humiliation, and dishonour in front of their families and communities. Women and girls might face ostracism or even death if they have (or are suspected of having) sexual relations outside of the rules enforced by society, such as before marriage. Furthermore, in certain societies, early marriage is utilised as a type of erroneously understood “protective” strategy to prevent the humiliation and penalties of a girl who had sexual relations before to marriage. As a result, some girls may be married off early in order to prevent any form of sexual activity before to marriage.

 

Medical Relevance: is ‘Virginity Testing’ a Determinant for Vaginal Intercourse?

According to a 2014 WHO article, the intrusive and demeaning “virginity test” or “two-finger test,” which is still employed in some countries to “verify” whether a woman or girl is a virgin, has “no scientific basis.” “The WHO guideline endorses the generally established medical position that ‘virginity tests’ are meaningless” and give no proof of whether a woman or a girl has had sexual intercourse or has been raped.

In reality, some women are born without a hymen, and the membrane can burst or stretch as a result of other activities like as athletics and weight lifting, among others.

The vaginal hymen is part of the vulva, or external genitalia, and is placed 1-2 cm within the vaginal entrance. Its structure is similar to that of the vagina in that it resembles a ruffled wreath and is made up of folds of mucous tissue that can be firmly or loosely folded. The form, size, colour, and flexibility of the hymen vary across women and during a woman’s life, depending on age, stage of sexual development, and hormone levels.

Talking About ‘Virginity Testing’ with Women and Girls

In some of these Syrian communities, young girls and women contact medical institutions and request ‘virginity testing.’ Many physicians find it difficult to deny when this occurs; they believe that if the request comes from the lady or girl herself, it is their obligation to do the test. It is critical to note that regardless of who demands the examination, the medical (in) validity of the test, as well as the human rights consequences, remain unchanged. Furthermore, the grounds for such a request are rooted in power disparities between men and women, as well as gendered cultural norms.

The individual requesting the test is most likely unable to fully exercise her right to freedom of choice, and the pressure placed on her to establish her ‘virginity’ is a violation of her rights in and of itself.

It is also vital that women and girls are targeted with awareness-raising messages in order to empower them and prevent them from feeling compelled to engage in this destructive activity.

Doctors, midwives, nurses, and psychosocial workers who hear these requests should perform the following:

  • Welcome the woman pleasantly, make her feel at ease, and ensure her that everything she says them will be kept private.
  • Determine the cause (why the woman thinks she needs such a test). Listening actively and respectfully to the woman or girl may result in the discovery of an abusive or dangerous scenario that must be handled with according to protocol.
  • Share with the lady the reasons why the test is not scientifically trustworthy, why it is a practise that must be ended, and specifics about its harmful practises (i.e. creating shame and fear to enforce control over women and girls).
  • Do not do the test; instead, assist the woman or girl in identifying alternate solutions (such as referral to case workers and devising safety plans) to the position she is in, ensuring her safety and security at all times.

Because virginity is not a medical condition, a medical examination is not necessary nor beneficial, and it may be both uncomfortable and detrimental.

Helping Women and Girls Who Have Been Subjected to ‘Virginity Testing’

Women and girls who are subjected to ‘virginity testing’ will respond differently to the examination, based on a variety of circumstances such as their age, current coping strategies, and/or social standing. Organizations should explore support interventions on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the interests of the women or girls. Organizations with continuing case management programmes can guide women and girls who have disclosed having had a “virginity test” through several processes. Medical and emotional care, at a minimum, should be offered to these women and girls, either directly or through referrals to service providers delivering GBV-focused services.

Virginity and Pregnancy

Content
1 Virginity
2 Definitions
3 Hymen
4 Medico-Legal Aspect of Virginity
5 Pregnancy
6 Medico-Legal Aspect of Pregnancy

VIRGIN:
A virgin is a woman who has not experienced sexual intercourse.
Virgin term is derived from a latin word Virgo or Maiden, which means sexually inexperienced woman ( virgo intacta)

VIRGINITY
Virginity is the state of being Virgin.
Defloration
Latin Term – de:flore, flower and away: Rupture of hymen by sexual intercourse to the plucking of flower.
Defloration means loss of virginity
Marriage
It is a contract between man and woman which implies physical union by coitus.
Divorce
Divorce means dissolution of previously valid marriage
Chastity
It does not imply virginity
Chastity derived from a Latin word’ castitas meaning cleanliness or purity.
Hymenoplasty
It is an operation for repairing ruptured hymen. It will restore to its intact estate.
Hymenorrhaphy
• ‘Hymen’ is a Greek term meaning membrane and ‘Raphe’ means suturing:
• so, suturing of ruptured hymen is Hymenorrhaphy.
Hymenotomy
It is a surgical procedure to correct imperforate or septate Hymen.

 

CONCEPTS

The question of virginity arises in cases of-

1.Nullity of marriage:
• When either party was under age at the time of marriage
• One party was of unsoundmind or mental defective at the time of marriage
• Either party was already validly married,
• When female was pregnant by another man at the time of marriage or
• where has not been comummuted due to impotence or wilful refusal.

 

2.Divorce
The ground of the divorce are:
• Adultery,
• Incurable mental illness,
• Husband found guilty of rape,sodomy or bestality,
• Incurable leprosy
• Incurable venereal disease,
• deserted petitioners for two year continuously.
• Not heard for years and
• Divorce by mutual consent on the ground of living separately for one year or more

 

HYMEN
The Hymen is a fold of mucous membrane about 1mm thick, derived from the posterior vaginal wall, situated at the vaginal outlet.
Types of Hymen :
1.Annular Hymen: The opening is oval and situated near the centre of the membrane
2.Semilunar or Crescentic Hymen: It is commonest type of hymen in which the opening placed anteriorly.
3.Cribriform Hymen: There are several hymenal opening
4.Septate Hymen: Two lateral opening which is separated either partially or completely by a thin strip of tissue.
5.Vertical Hymen: The opening in the hymen is vertical.
6.Infantile Hymen: A small linear opening in the middle of hymen
7.Imperforate Hymen: No Hymenal opening present.
8.Fimbriated Hymen: This type of hymen is also called Frilly Edged Hymen’.

Causes of Rupture of Hymen
1.Act of coitus: Sexual inter course is the commonest cause of rupture of Hymen.
However in some cases Hymen remains intact inspite of Virgin, repeated sexual intercourse, such condition is called False
2.Accident: A fall on a projecting substance.
3.Foreign Body: Sola pith is introduced into vagina for rendering very young girl fit for sexual intercourse is called Aptae Virus.
4.Masturbation: Specially, if practiced with some large foreign body.
5.Surgical Procedure: Artificial maneuvers and gynecological examinations and introduction of instrument for medical examination.
6.SanitaryTampons: Insertion of sanitary tampon
7.Ulceration: Due to diphtheria and other diseases
8.Scratches: Due to irritation of parts the cause is lack of cleanliness.

Medico Legal Aspects
1.The presence of an intact Hymen is not an absolute sign of virginity. With an intact hymen there are true virgin or false virgin.
The principal signs of virginity are an intact Hymen, a normal condition of the fourchette and posterior commissure and a narrow vagina with rugosity of wall.
2. After repeated sexual intercourse, tears are present at 5’o clock and 7o’ clock position. After the birth of child Hymen is completely lost and small round flashy tags are formed called carunculae hymenales or ‘carunculae myrtiformes’.

 

PREGNANCY
Pregnancy is the carrying of one or more embryo or feotus inside the womb of a female.
The condition of having a developing embryo or feotus in the female occurs when an ovum is fertilized by a spermatozoon; in lay term it is called conception. The fused product of male and female gamete is called zygote. It occurs during reproductive period of female from 15 years to 45 years.
Although pregnancy begins with implantation, the process leading pregnancy occurs earlier as a result of female gamete or oocyte, merging with male gamete or spermatozoon.

Medico Legal Aspects
1.When a woman pleads pregnancy to avoid attendance in the court as a witness – Pregnancy itself is not an excuse, unless in advanced stage of pregnancy to the fact that delivery is imminent.
2.When a female sentenced to death penalty, pleads that she is pregnant to avoid execution. The High court has the to postpone the execution of death until 6 months after delivery or commute it to life imprisonment.
3.When a woman feigns pregnancy after her husband’s death to claim succession to estate.
4.When a woman, who had filed a suit in the court for breach of promise of marriage of seduction claims to be pregnant.
5.When a woman blackmails a man and accuses that she is pregnant by him to compel marriage.
6.In allegations that widow or an unmarried woman or a married woman living separately from her husband, is pregnant.
7.When a woman alleges that she is pregnant in order to secure greater compensation from some person dies through the negligence.
8.In case of divorce, the woman may claim to be pregnant to receive more alimony or maintenance /allowance.