Court bans virginity testing on women and girls


To prove their virginity, Pakistani women have so far had to endure a humiliating test. But that should be over now. The UN had fought for a long time.

Pakistan has banned a controversial and unscientific practice of allegedly verifying the virginity of women. The so-called “two-finger tests” are illegal and violate the Pakistani constitution, the high court in the eastern city of Lahore said on Monday.

In invasive practice, doctors check rape victims to see whether the hymen of the girls or women is intact. The tests, which have been carried out for decades, have no scientific or clinical basis, according to the United Nations (UN).

Demand from the UN for two years

For two years the UN has been calling for an end to the so-called “virginity tests”. The tests increase gender inequality, according to human rights activists. The appearance of the hymen of girls or women could not prove whether they had intercourse or are sexually active, said the UN. The examination could also be painful, humiliating and traumatic. The court also followed this line of argument.

The petition from human rights defenders started in March

In Pakistan, human rights activists launched a petition in March to end the practice. The Ministry of Law and Justice had already recommended in October that the tests should not be part of criminal investigations. So-called “virginity tests” are considered a violation of human rights internationally. They are outlawed under Article 7 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 16 of the Convention against Torture. Pakistan has ratified both treaties.

In December, laws against rapists were tightened in Pakistan. Sex offenders face chemical castration or the death penalty in particularly serious cases of rape or child abuse. The new regulations are seen as a reaction to several sex crimes that led to outrage in the South Asian country.

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