A recent news report on Georgia's Imedi television raised howls of protest when it revealed that Georgia's National Forensics Bureau was performing as many as 200 "virginity inspections" a year.
The report showed a bureau doctor describing the process, in which three medical experts use basic gynecological equipment and a head-mounted lamp to examine young women for tell-tale breaks in their hymen -- the traditional sign of sexual activity.
Since then, hundreds of Georgians have poured onto social media sites to alternately defend and assail the practice. And on July 30, a group of Georgian women gathered outside the forensics bureau to stage a noisy protest.
Natia Gvianishvili, a member of the Independent Group of Feminists, which organized the protest, said it was time to tackle what Georgians call the "virginity institute," the notion that a woman's value as a future wife and mother rests almost exclusively on her chastity.
"We are calling on the forensics bureau to stop providing these types of services. The idea of destroying the 'virginity institute' lies in treating women's sexuality and their sexual behavior on equal terms with men's sexuality," Gvianishvili said.
Despite the fact that its own employees were cited in the Imedi report, the Forensics Bureau on July 30 posted a statement on its website saying it performed virginity tests only in the case of court-ordered rape and abuse allegations. It denied issuing certificates for brides and other young women.
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