After the Government said it is an “indefensible” practice, MPs have backed a ban on virginity testing in England.
By William Hallowell, CP News Reporter.
Any person found helping woman or girls get these tests could receive a prison sentence of up to five years.
The World Health Organisation has said the practice constitutes a violation of human rights, and that it is thought to occur in at least 20 countries.
It has also said but that virginity tests cannot actually prove whether a woman or girl has had sex or not, because the hymen can be broken in other ways.
An amendment to the Health and Care Bill – which has been passed in the Commons – will make it an offence to offer someone such a test or help them get one in the UK or abroad.
Health Minister, Edward Argar, has said that virginity testing is “repressive” and that is causes “long-term physical and psychological damage”.
Mr Argar has confirmed that ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all want to “ensure the whole of the UK tackles this abhorrent practice”.
The Minister told the House of Commons:
“This House’s commitment to legislate, I believe, is a profoundly important step forward in helping to tackle the damaging myths concerning so-called purity in women’s sexuality.
“In response to concerns that vulnerable women and girls will be taken abroad and subjected to virginity testing abroad once the offence is banned in the UK, these offences will also carry extra-territorial jurisdiction”.
Last year, a BBC Newsbeat investigation found that there are 21 clinics that offer them, charging between £150 to £300.
And a recent undercover investigation carried out by ITV found that “dozens” of clinics and private hospitals offer hymen repair surgery – ‘hymenoplasty’ – in London.
20 doctors across 30 clinics and private hospitals across London, Norwich and Manchester were found to have offered this surgery, charging between £2000 and £3000.
The Government has suggested it is looking at outlawing this procedure too, but that it is waiting for a report with recommendations from an independent panel first, which is due before Christmas.