Friday, December 20, 2019

Like a virgin? Controversy surrounding "virginity tests."

Virginity testing has been in the news.

In the NY Times:
After the Rapper T.I.’s Remarks, N.Y. May Ban ‘Virginity Tests’
Legislation was introduced after the rapper said he subjects his daughter to a yearly hymen exam, sparking outrage on social media.

In the Guardian:
'Now I have to check your hymen': the shocking persistence of virginity tests
In the US, it is still perfectly legal to doctors to perform ‘hymen checks’ as proof of virginity

"a small 2017 study found that of 288 US obstetrician and gynaecologists who were asked, 45 (16%) had been asked at least once to perform virginity testing or virginity “restoration”. Thirteen of those doctors complied.
"At present, it is not considered medical malpractice to perform a hymen examination – in fact, it’s completely legal. But one New York assemblywoman is hoping to make a tangible difference by changing the law.

"Michaelle Solages’s bill hopes to take the question completely out of a doctor’s hands. If passed, it will ensure that virginity testing is banned; that any medical professional undertaking such a practice will face losing their license; and that if the examination is performed in the US, whether inside or outside the medical office, it should be constituted as sexual assault.

Here's an old blog post that claims that many young Zulu women in S. Africa are glad to be able to send a signal about their virginity, in defiance of a ban on virginity testing there.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Here's a review of the scientific literature:

Reprod Health. 2017; 14: 61.
 doi: 10.1186/s12978-017-0319-0
Virginity testing: a systematic review
Rose McKeon Olson and Claudia GarcĂ­a-Moreno

"Main Results: Seventeen of 1269 identified studies were included. Summary measures could not be computed due to study heterogeneity. Included studies found that hymen examination does not accurately or reliably predict virginity status. In addition, included studies reported that virginity testing could cause physical, psychological, and social harms to the examinee.

"Conclusions: Despite the lack of evidence of medical utility and the potential harms, health professionals in multiple settings continue to practice virginity testing, including when assessing for sexual assault. health professionals must be better informed and medical and other textbooks updated to reflect current medical knowledge. Countries should review their policies and move towards a banning of virginity testing."
And here's an update featuring a story published this morning in the Washington Post--apparently the recently defeated Republican governor of Kentucky hadn't been an avid reader of the scientific literature...

Kentucky’s ex-governor pardoned a child rapist because the 9-year-old victim’s hymen was intact By Antonia Noori Farzan  Dec. 20, 2019

"Already under fire for handing out pardons to relatives of his supporters, Bevin is now facing an onslaught of criticism from medical and forensic experts. Scientists have debunked the notion that inspecting an alleged victim’s hymen can prove whether they were sexually assaulted, and found that most survivors of child sexual abuse do not have any physical damage. George Nichols, an expert in evaluating child abuse who also served as Kentucky’s chief medical examiner for 20 years, told the Courier-Journal on Thursday that Bevin “clearly doesn’t know medicine and anatomy.”

"Bevin, who had a reputation for making controversial and unproven claims during his single term as Kentucky’s governor, was narrowly defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear in November. Before leaving office, he issued 428 pardons, a group that includes multiple convicted murderers and sex offenders, the Courier-Journal reported."

No comments: