Virginity Testing is Still Present in Afghanistan


Kabul, Afghanistan — Despite the continuous efforts practiced by Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, to end the official virginity test which has been castigated for decades from the international society, the operation is still done to the female suspects who are accused of adultery or other sexual crimes. It was only a few months ago that the president promised the abolishment of an official procedure when a young girl, accused of an unproven claim of a moral crime, was attacked by the crowd in the middle of the city.

The examination on virginity i.e. a test to find out if a woman is a virgin by invasively checking hymen was intact to her, has been still under operation even when it did not gain any official approval to conduct the test in Afghanistan over the years. Including the central forensic centre, all the provincial forensic centres have processed 42 virginity tests during the first 6 months of 2016, according to the New York Times. The process is highly conflicted by the conservative officials and men, insisting this examination should be “considered as tradition” and its usage is only “limited to the females who are suspected of crimes they might have committed.”

It is not only Afghanistan condemned for the practice of this degrading test. Tragically, this tradition is well enshrined in countries located in Asia, Africa, and Middle-East. It was pointed out as a highly serious problem when Human Rights Watch has criticised Indonesia government for undertaking the tests to the female candidates who wish to join the armed forces before their appointment last 2015. Also in the same year, there was a massive marching protest done by 300 virgin women to defend the freedom of female body and end those tests.

Some argue that the test is part of their culture and tradition. Nomagugu Ngobese, the founder of the Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation, says that the testing is a representative cultural feature of Zulu in South Africa.

“This is our religion, first and foremost. It’s central to our upbringing as indigenous people of our country. When we go to the mountains for prayers, it’s easier to communicate with the Gods when you’re pure. Even when our virginity testers are married women, they abstain from sex so that when they carry out the inspections, they don’t make the girls impure. So virginity testing is a part of our culture that is sacred to us, and we are not ashamed of it.”

Not only in South Africa, a majority of countries continuing the practices insisted the virginity testing for a similar reason: for the preservation of the tradition.

Since it has bid approximately 1 billion dollars to reform the legal system of Afghanistan, the United States is highly concerned of the endless infringement on women’s rights such as the virginity testing for the past few years. As more the government is intimidated on the enactment of the ban, the more the tension between the genders is predicted to increase. There lies a necessity for the current government to surmount the challenge.

Dasol Eom

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