It is based on the inaccurate belief that all women and girls who have not had penetrative sex have intact hymens that bleed during first intercourse.
The same misapprehension has been driving former sex slaves to seek surgery to “restore their virginity” by repairing the membrane because of fears they will be shunned by future husbands or ostracised by family members and their communities.
Rothna Begum, a researcher at the group’s women’s rights division, said she spoke to a woman called Luna who had been kidnapped by Isis as the group swept through northern Iraq in 2014, sold four times and raped by all her “owners”.
A judge told Human Rights Watch researchers that the committee gathering evidence has subsequently stopped using the examinations and that a new reporting method has been adopted by the health directorate in Dohuk, based on UN recommendations.
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“This is an important step for women and girls like “Luna” who can now pursue justice for the crimes against them in a process that shows deeper respect for women’s rights and a commitment to providing better care for rape survivors,” Ms Begum said.
The World Health Organisation has stated that there is no place for virginity testing in modern practice, saying the commonly-used method of inserting two fingers “has no scientific validity” and can be painful and distressing.