Undercover footage reveals the terrible ordeal that many Swedish girls face before marriage as their families seek to prove their daughters are virgins before their wedding day. Reporters found that doctors were willing to perform “virginity tests” on young Swedish girls against their will in order to prove to their highly religious families that they were still virgins. In fact, at least one doctor offered a solution for the families of girls who were not virgins or for those who wanted to ensure the girl bled on her wedding night when having intercourse. The doctor offered to sew a portion of the girl’s genitals a couple days before the wedding to ensure a more virgin-like experience for the new husband.
The Daily Mail reports that undercover reporters went to various doctors in Sweden as an aunt who wanted to have a virginity test performed on her niece. The reporters wore hidden cameras and recorded the entire ordeal as the young actress protested the procedure loudly. In the videos, doctors seem to be willing to perform the “virginity tests” on the young girl despite her protest and even say they will provide a “certificate of virginity” for the family to present to the girl’s future spouse.
One doctor in the report indicates that she has done “hundreds” of the “virginity tests” and that she has even done them on young children, not just those ready to wed.
“I’ve done hundreds of virginity tests… I’ve examined children, grown-ups, everyone.”
You can watch the full video taken by TV4, along with subtitles, below.
In the video, it is startling to see the number of doctors willing to perform a “virginity test” in which they will exam the child’s genitals against her will. However, it is the reasoning behind the forced testing that has many human rights activists worried. Family members reportedly take young girls to doctors to secure “virginity certificates” as a means to “prove” virginity to the girl’s future husband. The “test,” according to TV4, is disturbing not only because it is forced, but also because it is inaccurate.
“The problem with virginity tests comes from the myth of the hymen – the body part of women that does not exist.”
Should the girl “fail” the test or have other issues, at least one doctor in the video provides a solution for the concerned “aunt.” The doctor tells the aunt to bring the girl back into the office one or two days before her wedding. The doctor then offers to sew a portion of the girl’s genitals shut so that she will “bleed” on her wedding night. Therefore, it seems the doctor is trying to recreate virginity for the future husband through the forced procedure.
An alleged victim of the virginity testing, who simply called herself “Sara,” claims that she underwent the forced test at the age of 15. Sara says that the test was given after she was forced to get engaged to her own cousin at the age of 13. At the age of 15, prior to her marriage to her cousin, the girl was forced to have a virginity test. She claims the test is shameful and proves nothing.
“I don’t know what other people think, but there’s nothing that proves anything that someone should examine me to see if I’m a virgin. It feels really disgusting.”
Liesl Gerntholtz from Human Rights Watch notes that the prevalence of virginity testing in Sweden is of particular concern because the country is viewed internationally as a protector of women’s rights. Therefore, the virginity testing is highly unacceptable.
“In a country that internationally has played a leading role in protecting women’s human rights, it was almost unthinkable to me that this would be happening in a country like Sweden.”
What do you think about “virginity testing” in Sweden? Does it change your opinion on the state of women’s rights in the country?
[Image Credit: Sweden Map/ National Geographic]