Two New York state lawmakers have introduced bills that would prevent 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.
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 The New York Post that she was “horrified” after she heard TI’s confession.
“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.”
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