Virginity Testing Beyond a Medical Examination

  •  Mehri Robatjazi    
  •  Masoumeh Simbar    
  •  Fatemeh Nahidi    
  •  Jaber Gharehdaghi    
  •  Mohammadali Emamhadi    
  •  Abou-Ali Vedadhir    
  •  Hamid Alavimajd    


Apart from religious values, virginity is important in different communities because of its prominent role in reducing sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies. Even though virginity testing has been proclaimed an example of violence against women by the World Health Organization, it is still conducted in many countries, including Iran. 16 in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants aged 32 to 60 years to elucidate the perceptions and experiences of Iranian examiners of virginity testing.

The perception and experience of examiners were reflected in five main themes. The result of this study indicated that virginity testing is more than a medical examination, considering the cultural factors involved and its overt and covert consequences. In Iran, testing is performed for both formal and informal reasons, and examiners view such testing with ambiguity about the accuracy and certainty of the diagnosis and uncertainty about ethics and reproductive rights. Examiners are affected by the overt and covert consequences of virginity testing, beliefs and cultural values underlying virginity testing, and informal and formal reasons for virginity testing.

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