France is split over plans to ban v!rginity testing, with some campaigners calling the procedure barbaric and others warning of violent repercussions for some Muslim women.
Women in at least 20 countries are subjected to virginity tests, sometimes by force, as families, lovers or potential employers use them to assess their virtue, honour or social value, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Europe, the tests are issued in Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain, Sweden and Spain, according to the WHO.
In France, it is most commonly used by Muslims and also by some Roma families who want proof of virginity pre-wedlock.
The United Nations says the test is painful, inaccurate and a violation of human rights, with no place in modern society.
But not everyone agrees, with some experts predicting unintended fallout from France’s proposed ban, which is part of a wider Islamic separatism bill due in parliament next month
Doctors say it could mean women paying excessive fees for illegal tests or risking violent repercussions from family members, partners or putative in-laws if they lack proof.
“Penalising doctors is to close the only door for patients, where they could have found help and advice,” said Ghada Hatem-Gantzer, a gynaecologist in Paris and chief medic at the Maison des Femmes, a local women’s violence shelter.
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