References

Alkan N, Baksu A, Baksu B, Goker Nimet Gynecological Examinations for Social and Legal Reasons in Turkey: Hospital Data. Croat Med J. 2002; 43:(3)338-41

Amy J Certificates of virginity and reconstructions of the hymen. European J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2008; 13:(2)111-13

Awwad AM Virginity Control and Gender-Based Violence in Turkey: Social Constructionism of Patriarchy, Masculinity, and Sexual Purity. Int J Soc Sci Humanity. 2011; 1:(15)105-10

Berer M Cosmetic genitoplasty: it's female genital mutilation and should be prosecuted. BMJ. 2007; 334:7608-1335

Cantrell MA, Lupinacci P Methodological issues in online data collection. J Adv Nurs. 2007; 60:(5)544-9

Christianson M, Eriksson C In: Hovelius B, Johansson EE (eds). Lund: Studentlitteratur; 2004

Christianson M, Eriksson C ‘A girl thing’-perceptions concerning the word hymen among young women and men in Sweden. J Midwifery Women's Health. 2011; 56:(2)167-72

Christianson M, Eriksson C Myths and misconceptions. An online study of midwives perceptions about the vaginal opening, the hymen and virginity. BJM. 2013; 21:(2)108-115

Cook RJ, Dickens BM Hymen reconstruction: Ethical and legal issues. Int J Gynecol Obstetrics. 2009; 107:(3)266-9

Denscombe M Web-Based Questionnaires and the Mode Effect. An Evaluation Based on Completion Rates and Data Contents on Near-Identical Questionnaires Delivered in Different Modes. Soc Sci Comput Rev. 2006; 2:246-54

Eich T A tiny membrane defending ‘us’ against ‘them’: Arabic Internet debate about hymenorraphy in Sunni Islamic law. Cult Health Sex. 2010; 12:(7)755-69

Essén B, Blomkvist A, Helstrom L The experience and responses of Swedish health professionals to patients requesting virginity restoration (hymen repair). Reprod Health Matters. 2010; 18:(35)38-46

Foucroy JL Customs, Culture, and Tradition – What Role Do They Play in a Woman's Sexuality?. J Sex Med. 2006; 3:954-9

Fraze SD, Hardin KK, Brashears MT The effects of delivery mode upon survey response rate and perceived attitudes of Texas agri-science teachers. Journal of Agricultural Education. 2003; 44:(2)27-37

Fullerton J, Severino R, Brogan K, Thompson J The International Confederation of Midwives' study of essential competencies of midwifery practice. Midwifery. 2003; 19:174-90

Galesic M Dropouts on the Web: Effects of Interest and Burden Experienced During an Online Survey. J Off Stat. 2006; 22:(2)313-28

George ER Virginity Testing and South Africa's HIV/AIDS Crisis: Beyond Rights Universalism and Cultural Relativism toward Health Capabilities. Calif Law Review. 2008; 96:1447-519

Goodman MP Female Genital Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery: A Review. J Sex Med. 2011; 8:1813-25

Gosling SD, Vazire S, Srivastava S, John OP Should we trust web-based studies? A comparative analysis of six preconceptions about internet questionnaires. Am Psychol. 2004; 59:(2)93-104

Gürsoy E, Vural GI Nurses' and Midwives' views on approaches to hymen examination. Nurs Ethics. 2003; 10:(5)485-96

Hegazy AA, Al-Rukban MO Hymen: facts and conceptions. The Health. 2012; 3:(4)109-15

Helgesson G, Lynöe N Should physicians fake diagnoses to help their patients?. J Med Ethic. 2008; 34:133-36

Johnsdotter S, Essén B Genitals and ethnicity: the politics of genital modifications. Reprod Health Matters. 2010; 18:(35)29-37

Kurkiala M Interpreting honour killings. The story of Fadime Sahindal (1975–2002) in the Swedish press. Anthropol Today. 2003; 19:(1)6-7

Klingberg-Allvin M, Van Tam V, Nga NT Ethics of justice and ethics of care. Values and attitudes among midwifery students on adolescent sexuality and abortion in Vietnam and their implications for midwifery education: a survey by questionnaire and interview. Int J Nurs Stud. 2007; 44:(1)37-46

Krumer-Nevo M, Sidi M Writing against Othering. Qual Inquiry. 2012; 18:(4)299-309

Virginity tests banned in Quebec. (TV news report). 2013. http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/virginity-tests-banned-in-quebec-1.1494901

Kwak N, Radler B A comparison between mail and web surveys: response pattern, respondent profile, and data quality. J Off Stat. 2002; 18:(2)257-73

Paterson-Brown S Ethical dilemma. Should doctors reconstruct the vaginal introitus of adolescent girls to mimic the virginal state? Commentary: Education about the hymen is needed. BMJ. 1998; 316:(7129)

Pillai M Forensic examination of suspected child victims of sexual abuse in the UK: a personal view. J Forensic Med. 2005; 2:57-63

Raveenthiran V Surgery of the hymen: from myth to modernization. Indian J Surgery. 2009; 71:224-6

Rispler-Chaim V The Muslim surgeon and contemporary ethical dilemmas surrounding the restoration of virginity. Hawwa. 2007; 5:(2–3)

Saharso S Feminist ethics, autonomy and the politics of multiculturalism. Feminist Theory. 2003; 4:(2)199-215

Shalev C Rights to Sexual and Reproductive Health: The ICPD and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Health and Human Rights, Reproductive and Sexual Rights. 2000; 4:38-66

Shalhoub-Kevorkian N Imposition of virginity testing: a life-saver or a license to kill?. Soc Sci Med. 2005; 60:1187-96

Smith A The prepubertal hymen. Austr Family Physician. 2012; 40:(11)873-75

Truell AD Use of internet tools for survey research. Information Technology, Learning, and Performance Journal. 2003; 21:(1)33-7

Van Moorst B, van Lunsen RHW, van Dijken DKE, Salvatore C Backgrounds of women applying for hymen reconstruction, the effect of counselling on myths and misunderstandings about virginity, and the results of hymen reconstruction. European J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2012; 17:93-105

Vicente P, Reis E Using Questionnaire Design to Fight Nonresponse Bias in Web Surveys. Soc Sci Comput Rev. 2010; 28:251-67

Warenius LU, Faxelid EA, Chishimba PN Nurse-Midwives' Attitudes towards Adolecent Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs in Kenya and Zambia. Reprod Health Matters. 2006; 14:(27)119-28

Wells DL Sexual assault practice: Myths and mistakes. J Clinic Forensic Med. 2006; 13:(4)189-93

Acts of violence: Virginity control and hymen (re)construction

02 May 2014
17 min read
Volume 22 · Issue 5

Abstract

Globally, midwives are often at the forefront of promoting and improving women's sexual and reproductive health. It is important to develop a gender perspective in midwifery education, one that addresses the fact that virginity control and hymen (re)constructions are unscientific and may cause great harm to women worldwide. This study aimed to investigate the experience and attitudes of an international group of midwives regarding virginity control and hymen (re)constructions. An online questionnaire was emailed to midwives who attended the International Confederation of Midwifery (ICM) Congress in Glasgow. The respondents (n=480) represented five continents. Ten percent of the midwives reported professional experience of requests concerning virginity examinations and hymen (re)constructions. The majority stated that these practices are unjustifiable, and amount to acts of violence against women, whereas a minority responded that these practices can be acceptable. Almost two-thirds stated that it is the responsibility of midwives to work against these practices.

The existing ideas about the hymen described as a breakable membrane that surrounds or partially covers the external vaginal opening lack scientific proof (Christianson and Eriksson, 2004; Christianson and Eriksson, 2011; Christianson and Eriksson, 2013). Smith (2012) claims that the hymen is an embryological remnant that ruptures during the later stage of embryo development, indicating that it normally does not exist after birth. Furthermore, it has been emphasised that growth makes the vaginal orifice elastic, implying that sexual intercourse seldom leaves any visible changes, and consequently it might not be possible to verify virginity (Pillai 2005; Hegazy and Al-Rukban, 2012). Therefore, it would be incorrect to link the hymen with virginity (Raveenthiran, 2009). Despite the fact that virginity is not possible to verify by an external genital examination (Van Moorst et al, 2012), these ideas about a ruptured hymen have paved the way for medical practices such as virginity examinations and hymen (re) constructions.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • Unlimited access to the latest news, blogs and video content

  • Monthly email newsletter