Virginity is a sensitive subject. The concept itself has a complicated history and, while it describes sexual activity for all genders, there is greater value placed on female virginity. For women and girls, virginity is too often tied to moral character, purity, honor, and social, moral and religious values.
Health providers are often asked to confirm the virginity of women and girls either as a routine examination for unwed girls or as part of a clinical examination following sexual assault, to establish marriage eligibility, as a requirement for employment applications or, in extreme cases, by national authorities to determine legal cases.
Based on years of discussions with service providers from health and protection sectors, ‘Myths surrounding virginity: a guide for service providers’ aims to break down some of the persistent myths concerning female virginity and establish provider responsibilities around virginity testing. The information provided is based on existing literature and international recommendations.