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Girls & Women

UN Calls to End 'Virginity Tests' Around the World


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Passing judgment on women based on their sexual history is a form of gender discrimination. The UN hopes to eliminate scientifically unfounded virginity tests that harm young girls and women. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Virginity tests don’t prove a woman has had sex, or if she’s virtuous. But virginity tests do cause women shame and pain.

At least 20 countries still use the antiquated procedure, and the UN is committed to stopping gynecological examinations intended to measure virgin status, worth, and moral dignity, the Associated Press reports

Take Action: Tell World Leaders To Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws To Prevent Sexual Violence

The World Health Organization (WHO), UN Women, and the UN Human Rights office decided the tests used to see if a woman is worthy of marriage, or employment, are “medically unnecessary,” according to a joint statement. 


Doctors, police, and community leaders often inspect a woman’s hymen or insert their fingers into the vagina to conduct the invasive inspection, which the UN says hasn’t been shown to determine if a woman has had vaginal intercourse. A girls’ hymen can be broken due to many reasons other than penetrative sex. 

In some places, including Afghanistan, virginity testing is conducted on rape survivors to decide if the alleged rape actually happened. The practice can be extremely harmful by causing physical pain, triggering the original act of sexual violence, making the survivor feel disempowered and causing revictimization, the UN explained in its statement.

Read More: The Humiliating Test Women Must Undergo in Afghanistan After Sexual Assault

“Given that these procedures are unnecessary and potentially harmful, it is unethical for doctors or other health providers to undertake them. Such procedures must never be carried out,” the UN wrote.