The Lahore High Court of Punjab in Pakistan recently passed a surprising judgement.
The case concerned a single mother driving her children back home late at night when her car broke down and she was waiting for help.
While waiting she was sexually assaulted by two men.
In Pakistan, it is necessary for sexual victims to have a “virginity test” in order to prove that they have been violated.
However, the judge in the case, Ayesha Malik clearly stated that virginity tests “do not have medical forensic value” according to the UN, WHO and gynecologists.
This is because the test is mainly focused on inspecting whether the hymen has lacerations or not.
However, a hymen can have lacerations by other means – not only as a result of sexual behavior, but also after exercise or tampon use.
This kind of “test” could even cause secondary harm to the victims of sexual crimes.
Besides, the testing center in Pakistan is rather a crude place.
They only have one chair, and store specimens in a normal refrigerator alongside food for days at a time. The results might not thereafter even be believed by victims or the public.
As a result, Ayesha Malik made the judgement that virginity tests were not valid in this case.
In doing so she became the first person in Pakistan’s legal history to do so, and it is now hoped that other counties with similarly archaic laws will make the same judgements when faced with calls for virginity tests in the future.
Nevertheless, the virginity test not only exists in developing countries like Pakistan, but also in many developed countries such as the UK where, after providing the test there is a “charge” for the certification of being a “virgin”.
There are at least 20 countries still offering this test.
In many cultures, religions and societies, it is still important for women to be “virgins” in order to prove their cleanness and chasteness.
If not a virgin, people believe that the woman is profligate and dirty, and thus could be subject to domestic violence from family members, or even ignored by society.
From this case, we can see there are still many women around the world oppressed by a patriarchy that ensures they never have the rights that men enjoy.
Fortunately, there are more and more countries now taking the issue of “virginity testing” as a matter that violates basic human rights.
Governments everywhere are trying to prohibit this kind of improper behavior.
For example, in France authorities are trying to legislate a law that says issuing virginity certification will lead to imprisonment for one year along with a fine of 15,000 Euros.
Still, legislation is not enough to eliminating the discrimination such concepts force on women.
Only education can fix this to help reduce, discrimination towards women.
Only through education will the next generation realize what previous generations have done wrong, and make moves to change it.
Only by changing societies will women’s rights be valued as much as men’s rights.
Only in this manner will we achieve real equality in the foreseeable future.
Only when the “virginity test” no longer exists will this happen.