VIRGINITY testing is to be criminalised in England and Wales over fears it puts women and girls at risk of so-called honour killings.
Hymen repair procedures will also be outlawed in a new clause in the Health and Care Bill.
Tory MP Richard Holden previously introduced a private member’s bill to ban virginity testing – an intrusive and unscientific procedure to assess whether the hymen is intact.
It involves doctors physically examining the genitals to determine if the woman has had sex – although there is no real way to tell this.
The hymen can tear doing a number of activities like cycling, horse riding or using tampons, and some women are born without one.
Now, with the backing of the Department of Health and Social Care, Mr Holden's proposals have been introduced into an amendment to the Health and Care Bill.
It is also the first time a ban on hymenoplasty – a procedure known as hymen or virginity repair – has been included.
The MP said: "Virginity tests and hymen repair surgeries are being conducted by doctors to check or 'restore' the virginity of girls and women, often prior to marriage.
"These practices are not founded in science, are abusive and perpetuate dangerous myths.
"Young girls deserve to grow up without worrying about ‘breaking their womanhood’, so we must end this honour-based abuse."
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers virginity testing a violation of human rights.
It says it is "associated with both immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to her physical, psychological and social well-being".
Mr Holden is due to meet with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to discuss the criminalisation of the practices and hopes to gain cross-party support.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries has already backed the proposal.
It follows years of campaigners raising concerns that a women or girl who "fails" a virginity test could be at risk of a so-called honour killing.
Heshu Yones was killed aged 16 by her father in 2002 after allegedly 'failing' a virginity test.
Her murder was the first in the UK to be recognised by police as an honour killing.
It is time to ban the invasive, sexist practice of testing a girl’s or woman’s virginity, and to shut down the virginity myth once and for all.
Charity Karma Nirvana, which campaigns to end honour-based abuse in the UK, said disclosures relating to virginity testing and hymen repair surgery have increased to its helpline in the last two years.
Between 2020 and 2021, the organisation supported 41 women and girls where sex before marriage or not being a virgin was recognised as the motive for abuse from perpetrators.
A spokesperson for Karma Nirvana said: "Virginity testing is rarely an isolated incident of abuse, it is often associated with other behaviours that discriminate against, limit or harm women and girls.
"In our experience, this can include other forms of Honour Based Abuse, such as forced marriage.
"It is time to ban the invasive, sexist practice of testing a girl’s or woman’s virginity, and to shut down the virginity myth once and for all."
Data from NHS England, collected by the BBC last year, found 69 hymen repair procedures had been carried out since 2015.
But the true number is likely to be much higher as it is often carried out in private clinics, costing up to £3,000.
One young woman told Sky News her father took her to a clinic to undergo a virginity test where she "begged" doctors not the perform the examination.
She said she was "treated worse than an animal" and the ordeal as left her completely "traumatised".
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