Virginity testing in Morocco, a practice that encourages discrimination and sexism

The World Health Organization has urged Morocco in a new report to eradicate virginity testing. The practice, according to Moroccan sociologists, encourages discrimination and social hypocrisy.

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In a new report, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that virginity testing is an «unscientific and medically unnecessary» practice that violates human rights and leads to violence.

The United Nations body concerned with international public health called for the eradication of these tests in countries where the practice has been documented, including Morocco, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Libya, Malawi, Palestine, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Turkey, the UK and Zimbabwe.

It is a socialy constructed practice

Indeed, in the Kingdom several women are forced to go through virginity testing by their parents and families or their future husbands. The practice, however, is socially constructed, according to Nouzha Guessous, a Moroccan sociologist who was a member of the Royal Advisory Commission assigned to reform the personal status code «Mudawana».

The expert confirmed that «a virginity test is not requested legally when a couple are about to get married». Agreeing with the WHO’s conclusion, Guessous believes that the practice «humiliates women and forces others to look at them as an object, a body that needs to be monitored».

For her, demanding similar testing showcases how «society in Morocco regards a woman’s body» and enhances «the lack of trust».

Say no to virginity testing

The same opinion was shared by sociologist Marya Khtira, who believes that eradicating the «degrading» practice comes with introducing basic rights that would enable women in rural areas to be more independent and less vulnerable. «Before asking women to reject virginity testing, I believe we must reconsider important factors, including education», argued Khtira.

Speaking to Yabiladi on Tuesday, the sociologist is convinced that change must be conducted by women themselves. «I think it is up to women, especially those who live in urban areas, to opt for change and to say no to this testing», she added.

«Accepting this myth encourages social hypocrisy, discrimination based on sex and sexism».

Marya Khtira

For Marya Khtira, it is «crazy» to ask women to abide by rules that men are expected to break. «We have never heard of a man who has been told to do a virginity testing», she wondered.

For the record, the WHO urged governments, health professionals and their associations, international, regional and national health agencies, and communities to ban virginity testing and implement «national guidelines» to combat the phenomenon.

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