Antonio Guterres

A group of United Nations agencies has called for a ban on tests meant to assess the virginity of a girl or a woman.

According to a statement issued during the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) in Rio de Janeiro, it stressed that such tests were both unscientific, and a violation of human rights.

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The UN agencies are: the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), UN Women and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“So-called ‘virginity testing’ – also often referred to as hymen, ‘two-finger’ or per vaginal examination – is a gynecological inspection of female genitalia carried out in the false belief that it can reliably determine whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse,” the group said.

In a global call to eliminate violence against women and girls everywhere, the UN agencies said that “this medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice must end”.

The practice is a long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, spanning all regions of the world.

In their statement, the UN agencies explained that the practice has “no scientific or clinical basis” and that “there is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex”.

The agencies added that the “appearance of girl’s or woman’s hymen cannot prove whether they have had sexual intercourse or are sexually active or not”.

In addition, the UN agencies denounced virginity testing as a violation of the rights of girls and women, which can be detrimental to their physical, psychological and social well-being.