Doctors in Baghdad revealed to AFP that they have been conducting virginity tests ordered by Iraqi courts on newly-married women whose husbands suspect they were not virgins before their wedding.
In many cases, the tests show that they were indeed virgins, which may not be much consolation after being subjected to the humiliating accusation and procedure. In a society where honor killings have occurred, the issue can be a matter of life or death for the women involved. Premarital sex is considered in devout Muslim communities to be a stain on the family honor.
An average of several virginity tests are performed per day at the Medical Legal Institute (MLI) in Baghdad, in a small windowless room with blue-tiled walls and a black table with leg stirrups at one end.
Other equipment includes a white scope on a wheeled stand and a bright white light, also on wheels, near the end of the table.
"Most of the cases we received after the first day of marriage," said Dr Munjid al-Rezali, the director of the MLI.
"The husband claim that she is not a virgin, and then the family bring her here, through the courts, this all come through the courts, and we examine her," Rezali said, speaking in English.
"It's not uncommon, we are seeing a lot," he added.
The tests include examination of the woman's hymen, but the man involved may also come under scrutiny.
Ignorance and male dysfunction are sometimes to blame, the doctors suggest:
The man may be tested for impotency, Rezali said, noting that in some cases, a man with erectile dysfunction may pretend the woman was not a virgin to hide his shame.
The results of the tests go directly to the courts, and are not given by the MLI to the parties involved, Rezali said.
"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 MLI who has been involved in the tests.
This belief, he said, indicates that sex education and knowledge is "very poor."
Dr. Dawood told the French news agency that the tests take between 15 and 30 minutes and are supervised by three doctors, at least one a woman. He said these tests are conducted only when ordered by a court. If a woman is found not to be a virgin, her family must then compensate the groom’s family for bridal gifts and money spent on the engagement and wedding.
The controversy over virginity tests in the Arab world received wide attention during the anti-Mubarak demonstrations last year. As The Blaze reported then, female protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square said that they had been subjected to virginity tests while in police custody. Later, an Egyptian court ordered the country’s military rulers to put an end to the practice.
But then in March, an Egyptian military tribunal denied those tests were conducted, and acquitted an army doctor of a charge of public obscenity over the issue. He was accused by a female protester who said she was forced to undergo a virginity test while in custody.
(H/T: Al Arabiya)