Purity and Virginity Testing

“The Virgin in Prayer” by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (c. 1645), National Gallery (Accession No. NG200), London, Author/Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Clinics in Britain offer controversial but ineffective tests for virginity which can place lives at risk [1].  Young women who “fail” such tests may be subjected to violence or sexual assault, starvation, banishment from their communities, and – in extreme cases – honor killings.

Shame and Dishonor

In a few cultures, the loss of virginity prior to marriage is still viewed as bringing shame and dishonor on the family and community as a whole.  For that reason, virginity testing is often required for marriage.

Of course, it is always the woman’s virginity called into question.

Forced Testing

Women may be forced by parents, potential partners, or future in-laws to submit to virginity testing.

Virginity tests are, also, at times carried out on sexual assault victims to verify that rape has taken place.  Needless to say, the testing is equally ineffective for that purpose, though it is traumatic.

Examination of Hymen

During a virginity test, the medical practitioner performs a digital exam to check whether a woman’s hymen (the thin membrane across the vagina) is intact, and assess on that basis whether she has had intercourse.

However, a woman’s hymen can break easily, even in the absence of sexual activity [2].  The use of tampons and sports such as horseback riding may cause the hymen to tear. Since bleeding and pain do not always occur, a woman may not realize her hymen has ruptured.

Virginity Repair

In response to popular demand, multiple locations in Britain now offer hymenoplasty a/k/a “virginity restoration” surgery which reconstructs the hymen.  So called “hymen repair kits” are, also, sold online.  These generally contain vagina tightening gel, and one or more packets of fake blood (presumably to be used on the marital bed).

Human Rights

Long before DNA testing came into use, virginity testing was a way to assure that the children of a particular union would be the offspring of a certain father and no other.  It is tragic that virginity remains the measure of a woman’s virtue and status in society.

The World Health Organization views virginity testing as a violation of human rights, and would like such testing banned.  France is considering a ban, but experts warn that a black market could result.

Spiritual Purity

Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’’ “ (Luke 1: 34).

Mary, the mother of Christ, conceived Him by the Holy Spirit.  Her virginity, too, was questioned.  Like her modern contemporaries, Mary could have been banished from her village which often meant prostitution.  She could have been sold into slavery or stoned to death.

Despite that, Mary submitted to the will of God for her life.

And she continued to maintain the truth, even when to lie – to attribute Christ’s conception to Joseph or a Roman soldier – might have kept Him from the cross.  That is powerful support for her veracity.

Purity, in other words, is a quality of the soul (Matt. 5: 8).  It cannot be measured using specula or calipers.  Purity cannot  be stolen or damaged, no matter how badly the body is violated [3].  Nor can it be restored with any kit.

What Christians believe can restore purity is the blood of Christ (1 John 1: 7).

[1]  Business Insider, “UK medical clinics are selling controversial ‘virginity tests’, even though the WHO says they don’t work and can traumatize women” by Grace Dean, 11/27/20, https://www.businessinsider.com/uk-clinics-sell-virginity-tests-which-can-traumatize-women-bbc-2020-11.

[2]  UK National Health Service, “Does a woman always bleed when she has sex for the first time?”, https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/does-a-woman-always-bleed-when-she-has-sex-for-the-first-time/.

[3]  Those who seek to destroy purity in another only demonstrate their own depravity.



Filed under Christianity, Community, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

34 responses to “Purity and Virginity Testing

  1. It’s the 21st century A.D.—why is anywhere still living in 10,000 B.C is beyond my comprehension.

  2. Very interesting. I didn`know everything.

  3. Grim 😦 I had to check the date to see if it wasn’t the 12th century.

  4. Linda Lee/Lady Quixote

    Virginity tests. How sad.

  5. Utter license for some; utter scrutiny for others. Both wrong. A strange world.

  6. Brian (SearchingForLostSoul)

    Wow… You just wonder sometimes what other people have to go thru in life, especially women. Love your comments on Mary. Trust without hesitation. Love Her and ask for Her guidance all the time.

  7. Reblogged this on lovehappinessandpeace and commented:
    We are in an Era of COWARDS and Fools. An Infamous Impeachment could not be brought to its logical conclusion. As for that other world power, russia, (does not deserve a Capital), putting all opposition in jail is Old history there. In India, the ‘word’ democracy exists in books, and is even bandied about. The country is Fast heading into Fascism.

    For me it is Not just the situation, but What can be done about it. Whether it is this renewed assault on Women that You bring to light, my Dear Anna, or the situations I have mentioned, I fully believe that a Strong and Continued voice from the Vatican would have a Lot of effect. But, as I said, We live in an age of Cowards.

    ‘It is Time for You, Lord, to Act, for they are making Void Thy Law,’ is my prayer these days.

  8. I am originally from the UK and had no idea this happened!

  9. Thank you for being their voice Anna !
    It is sad when being born female brings misery to so many.
    Human rights should be far more important than oil rights..

  10. Good post, Anna. I really appreciate your points about Mary’s veracity. I never really thought about that, but in her case, lying would have been far more beneficial and perhaps kept her child from harm.

  11. Few things are more dangerous in this world than traditions that are resistant to any kind of change.

    I grew up in a country south of the Sahara dessert. Like most countries in that region, virginity testing was a thing. It is still prevalent in some more remote places but, with education, and civilization it has gradually become very unpopular.

    It was done a little differently. No one, doctors or not, prods the female genitalia for an intact anatomy. But , just as you described, Anna, on the wedding night, the families from both sides of the couple present them with white drapes or sheets which must be returned stained with bright red blood latest by the following morning. The sight of blood on the sheets gave the bride’s family not only a sigh of relief but a sense of sheer pride. Little did the folks that passed down this tradition recognize the flaws in their inquiries and the inhumane nature of the long-held practices. Fortunately, it has become rarer than in times past. But I am just learning about similar practices in other places from your post.

    Anna, I like how you described the true meaning purity. You are a light and a blessing.

    • You are a dear friend, Gbolabo. I always appreciate your insights. Stay safe and well.

    • Dear Anna and Gbolabo,

      Virginity testing is as unnecessary and barbaric as female genital mutilation. Thank you, Anna, for highlighting the vexed issue.

      By the way, Anna, I have replied to you with another bespoke comment at my post entitled “🦅 SoundEagle in Chinese New Year Celebration, Spring Festival, Lion Dance, Food, Ornaments, Traditional Culture and Architecture 🏮🎋🦁🥗🎐㊗️⛩”, and have updated the post to reflect the year of the Ox.

      Happy Chinese New Year to you and Gbolabo!

  12. theburningheart

    Old prejudices, are hard to die, I am afraid, unfortunately morals on this particular case, are in part responsible, exalting the virtue of virginity over teachings like: “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8: 7
    Why even judging, and condemnation, about a particular person, is necessary after that?

  13. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    I could not believe what I was reading. Again, Male domination trying to exert power and control over women. In this case basing purity on whether or not there’s a torn hymen. Jesus said that evil comes out from the mouth, so let’s not judge and let’s not think we’ve the authority to invade another person’s body. Instead of looking at things like virginity, let’s look more on the things that we can do to make this a better world. Disturbing and annoyed, yet I am happy to have read your post because it is important to know these things, no matter how backward and atrocious they are. Thank you! All the best to you,

  14. That’s surprising that Britain allows clinics to do virginity tests.

    Minor edit — not sure if this clause connects to the independent clause: “which often meant prostitution.”
    Maybe — “,and she could have become a prostitute.”

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