Two New York state lawmakers have introduced bills preventing doctors from performing virginity exams, describing it as a violation of women’s rights.
The move comes on the back of a recent confession by Clifford Harris Jr., American rapper and actor better known as TI, that he takes Deyjah, his 18-year-old daughter, to a gynaecologist every year to check if her hymen ‘is still intact’ and a subsequent interview during which he attempted to clarify those remarks.
But Roxanne Persaud, New York Democrats; and Michaelle Solages, assemblywoman, have proposed the new legislation in an effort to ban the practice of ‘virginity examinations’ by doctors.
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The two bills would not ban all medical hymen examinations but specifically, “the performance of hymen examinations on women as a means to ascertain whether a woman is a virgin.”
“These examinations are not only a violation of women’s and girls’ human rights, but in cases of rape, can cause additional pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, leading to re-experience, re-traumatization and re-victimization,” read one of the bills sponsored by Solages.
“The term ‘virginity’ is not a medical or scientific term. Rather, the concept of ‘virginity’ is a social, cultural and religious construct – one that reflects gender discrimination against women and girls. As a result, the United Nations, along with the World Health Organization, U.N. Women and U.N. Human Rights, called for a global ban on the practice.”
The lawmaker, who represents Long Island’s Nassau County, also told newsmen that she was “horrified” after she heard TI’s confession.
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“I was horrified to see this was happening. If a celebrity can impose his power to ensure his 18-year-old daughter gets checked, imagine what can be done in households across New York state?,” she asked.
The United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) have both called for a global prohibition on the pelvic exams.
According to a 2018 report from WHO, “‘virginity testing’ has no scientific or clinical basis. There is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex – and the appearance of girl’s or woman’s hymen cannot prove whether they have had sexual intercourse, or are sexually active or not.”