Are you virgin? Think twice and thrice. You might need to take a test!
At many places in India, virginity tests are a common phenomenon, and its results are declared in public. Above all, if the results are negative then the woman is rejected from the society.
Virginity is defined in many different ways, but generally, it can be summed up by saying that a virgin is someone who has never had sex. In India, it is believed that a girl is virgin if she bleeds the first time she takes part in sexual intercourse. This bleeding is the result of breakage or rupture of the hymen during penis-vagina sex.
In brief, the hymen is a thin fold of mucus tissue located 1-2 cm inside the vaginal opening that surrounds or may even completely cover the opening. While sex, if the hymen breaks and woman bleeds, then the woman passes the virginity test. However, if the hymen does not break, she fails the virginity test.
Now looking at this from a medical point of view, it is possible that the hymen may rapture during the first time a woman has sex. But less than 50% of women do not bleed the first time they have sex. Doctors say that many activities other than sex like cycling, horse riding, physical exercises, etc. can tear the hymen. In some cases, the hymen is too strong to be broken. Also, a girl maybe born without a hymen. Therefore, whether the hymen is torn or intact, it cannot be provided as a proof of a female being virgin.
Now, the issue arises when a woman doesn’t bleed on her first night after marriage. If this happens, then her ‘character’ is questioned, and they face hardship all throughout their life. Her in-laws and society abandon her. According to some traditions, to avoid this, the bride’s parents are required to compensate her in-laws by offering gold, money, property, etc.
This matter has been covered by a few news channels and journalists, but they were not able to draw proper attention to the matter as the Indian public wants masala in the news.
A case of virginity test was covered by Indian Express. The report stated: “A group of youths from Kanjarbhat community have come together to protest against this practice carried on by caste panchayat. This protest was initiated by Vivek Tamaichekar, a masters student at the Tata Institute of Social Science (Mumbai) who created a WhatsApp group named ‘Stop the V ritual’ (where V stands for virginity). His sister, Priyanka Tamaichekar is also an active member.”
As per reports of the Indian Express, the process involves the groom and bride to have sex on white sheets while members of the panchayat sit outside.
“If the groom comes out with a bedsheet with the blood stains on it, the bride passes the test. But if bedsheet has no stains, the panchayat members accuse the bride of having a physical relationship with a man in the past,” said Priyanka to the Indian Express.
The bride is even beaten or harassed if she fails. When complaints are made to the police against panchayat, they are told that since it is a personal issue, the police cannot do anything.
Another case in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan was covered by Headlines Today. Their report stated that girls are made to consummate with their husbands immediately after marriage to check their virginity. When the locals were asked if this practice is appropriate; just one female stood against the practice while others felt that it was okay for a woman to give virginity test. The Panchayat even said that only females have to take this test and not the males. In fact, in one of the marriages, the groom said that he had sex before marriage with someone else, but he cannot accept his wife as she failed the test. When brides fail the test, her family has to compensate the groom’s family to accept the impure bride.
Tests like these violate human rights. It degrades the society and shows its double standards. It dishonours the dignity and pride of women. People following this practice need to respect women and treat them with honour.