A new measure unveiled in Afghanistan in July to prohibit government health personnel from performing “invasive and medically meaningless vaginal and anal exams” on women and girls to ascertain whether they are “virgins” is a step in the right direction to protect women’s rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said this week in a statement welcoming the policy.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned the policy “as degrading, discriminatory and unscientific,” the Guardian acknowledged on July 5 as it announced the change of the virginity test policy long used in Afghanistan to determine whether a woman has committed adultery or had sex before marriage.
Women and girls who fail the virginity test are sent to prison, for more than a year at times, the Guardian added, noting, “When they are eventually released, they face a future defined by shame, exclusion and destitution.”
Hundreds of women and girls are currently imprisoned across Afghanistan for failing the virginity test.
“The government should decriminalize consensual sex between adults and ensure that the justice system distinguishes between consensual sex and rape,” the human rights group declares.