Sunday, July 01, 2012

Court-Ordered Virginity Tests In Iraq

It's hard to believe that in the 21st century women are being forced to undergo virginity tests to prove they were chaste until marriage. But Iraqi men are hauling their new brides into court claiming they were not virgins when they married, and the women are then ordered to go through painful, humiliating tests to prove otherwise. At least the tests have replaced death or mutilation in a religious culture that places so much importance on pre-marital celibacy for women. Not that there's anything wrong with refraining from sex before marriage, but punishing women by killing or degrading them for not doing so is unconscionable. This is why so many women go through hymenoplasty surgery, to avoid the often severe consequences of not being a virgin when marrying.

In their supreme ignorance, many Muslim men believe that bleeding is the only sign that their wife is a virgin not realizing that there are many non-sexual ways a woman might not bleed or have an intact hymen, including sports or accidents.

“They think that during the marriage, (the) first day of marriage, there should be blood... they think if there is no blood, there is no virginity,” said Dr. Sami Dawood, a forensic doctor at the Medical Legal Institute (MLI) who has been involved in the tests.

According to the director of the MLI,  Dr. Munjid al-Rezali, the tests have become so common they are performed daily.

“Most of the cases we received after the first day of marriage. The husband claim that she is not a virgin, and then the family brings her here, through the courts, this all come through the courts, and we examine her. It’s not uncommon, we are seeing a lot."
Thankfully, it's not just the woman who is subject to investigation. The husband is sometimes tested for impotency in case he is the one with the problem, not the wife.
Dawood said the court-ordered tests  are performed by three doctors, one of whom must be female, and takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

“The judge is required to send the woman for the medical test when she is accused by her husband of not being a virgin, and that is only done in this case,” lawyer Ali Awad Kurdi said.
“If it is proved that the woman was not virgin and sought to get married without telling the man, there is no law that protects her,” Kurdi said.

Muslim laws favor men, so it's not very surprising that she's not protected. And, of course, the man (who probably isn't a virgin himself) gets back all the money, gifts etc. that he showered the woman with.

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