A Ban On "Medieval" Virginity Testing In The UK Has Passed First Commons Hurdle
A new law to ban virginity testing in the UK has passed its initial stage in the Commons after MPs heard how the "medieval" practice is breaching women and girls' human rights.
Tory MP Richard Holden introduced his bill calling for a ban on the tests, which a recent BBC investigation found were being undertaken at 21 clinics in the UK and cost between £150 and £300. The bill will now get its second reading in January.
The World Health Organisation has said there is no scientific evidence for the tests, which are marketed as a vaginal examination that can check if the hymen is intact.
Holden, the MP for North West Durham, who is backed by a powerful body of cross-party female MPs, said: "They should be banned on the basis of fraud alone.
"But there is a second bigger question about what it says about us as a society, if we allow this practice to continue.
"What does it say about our attitude towards what is acceptable to women? Women aren't objects to be examined tested and selected by men, and crucially, there is an impact on these tests on those affected."
He said the United Nations have previously judged that the tests do long term physical and phychological damage.
Health professionals in the UK, including sexual health and specialist sexual violence work nurses are also backing the change in the law.
Holden said the tests exercise control over women and girls and breaches human rights in terms of sex discrimination and the rights of a child.
There are also links between the tests and forced marriages and so-called "honour" killings, Holden said.
Holden's Ten Minute Rule Bill is also backed by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, former Tory minister Nus Ghani, former chair of the women and equalities select committee Maria Miller and women's rights activist and Labour MP Sarah Champion.
Its second reading will be in January.