Court-Ordered Virginity Tests in Iraq

For those who continue to wonder why many of us focus on both feminism and atheism, take a look at this article about courts in Iraq ordering virginity tests for women in that country if their new husbands claim that they weren’t virgins. The price of failing such a test can include being killed by their fathers or brothers.

Remaining a virgin until marriage can be an issue of life or death for women in the Middle East, where those who are seen as having dishonoured the family by having premarital sex are sometimes killed by male relatives.

An average of several virginity tests are performed per day at the Medical Legal Institute (MLI) in Baghdad, in a small windowless room with blue-tiled walls and a black table with leg stirrups at one end.

Other equipment includes a white scope on a wheeled stand and a bright white light, also on wheels, near the end of the table.

“Most of the cases we received after the first day of marriage,” said Dr Munjid al-Rezali, the director of the MLI.

“The husband claim that she is not a virgin, and then the family bring her here, through the courts, this all come through the courts, and we examine her,” Rezali said, speaking in English.

“It’s not uncommon, we are seeing a lot,” he added.

Religious barbarism at its worst.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    Hell of a lot of freedom we “gave” them at bayonet-point, huh?

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/RiffingReligion Wes

    Ugh, not only is the notion of a virginity test utterly repulsive, but it’s also based on pseudoscience. A broken hymen is not necessarily a sign that a woman has had sex. So this is double irrationality–a superstitious value placed on “virginity”, and a pseudoscientific “test” to evaluate it.

  • http://timgueguen.blogspot.com timgueguen

    I wonder how many Iraqis engage in high risk behaviors, like unprotected anal sex, to ensure a woman is a “virgin” when marriage time comes. If kids over here can convince themselves it’s not really sex unless the penis goes in the vagina Iraq kids can do the same thing.

  • garnetstar

    Umm, so how does the husband tell if his bride’s a virgin *before* making her not one?

    All new husbands have tables with stirrups in the bedchamber, and perform gynecological exams before consummating the marriage?

  • Synfandel

    If it were possible to test new husbands for virginity, I wonder how many would pass.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    The Hymen sounds like a Dr Seuss book. The greatest Dr Seuss book ever.

    And also this is a terrible thing. It turns out that you can’t bomb people into the 20th century.

  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    @Modusoperandi

    It turns out that you can’t bomb people into the 20th century.

    Where would you like your sniny new internets delivered?

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    Pretty much what Wes said. There are lots of reasons the hymen can be broken besides having sex.

  • slc1

    Re Modusoperandi @ #6

    I thought it was bomb them back to the stone age, or, as the late Air Force General Curtis LeMay put it, make a parking lot out of it.

  • Trebuchet

    Probably worth mentioning that these brides may well have never met their new husband prior to the wedding.

  • criticaldragon1177

    Ed Brayton,

    This is definitely an argument for the separation of Church and State.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.benzing mattbenzing

    Worth noting that the same sort of tests are prescribed in the Bible.

    Deuteronomy 22:13-21

  • raven

    Cavemen with cell phones.

    Saddam Hussein was a monster but it’s not clear if the monsters that followed him are worse or better.

    Some say that Iraq created Saddam Hussein. Only a ruthless dictator could have kept that mess together.

  • raven

    Probably worth mentioning that these brides may well have never met their new husband prior to the wedding.

    The women or likely girl may also be a child.

    She may also have been bought. There is a lot of child trafficing in the world and some of it is in the middle east.

  • ema

    Probably worth mentioning that these brides may well have never met their new husband prior to the wedding.

    Maybe, but according to the article most of the cases are received after the first day of marriage. So these poor women are evaluated with a virginity test *after* a known episode of vaginal intercourse. Stupidity on top of stupidity.

    On a relate note, I once [heard of] a rape kit [being done] on a teenager from that area of the world. She was raped during a home invasion (she still had some tape on her wrists when [she was seen]) and the one and only thing her parents were concerned about was the fact that she wasn’t a virgin anymore. That was it!

    Good thing that looks can’t kill otherwise [one] would’ve been in big trouble.

  • thalwen

    Whether the hymen is broken or not (besides being inaccurate) isn’t the issue. The issue is that women in the new democratic-republic-super-free-state of Iraq are still seen as property and their value is determined as to whether or not they are new or used goods. And used goods losing their value as well as being unsightly can be discarded at will. It’s the exact same mentality as the fundamentalist abstinence-only folks preach here, except they aren’t allowed to stone the hussies(yet.)

  • twincats

    The Hymen sounds like a Dr Seuss book. The greatest Dr Seuss book ever.

    Seriously??

    As someone who had a particularly tough one, fuck that. It took me two months to heal up after my first try at intercourse.

    That was the only comment I have ever read here that made me cross my legs and wince.

  • slc1

    Re raven @ #13

    Bashar Assad of Syria anyone?

  • slc1

    Re ema @ #15

    Great restraint their. My reaction would have been a punch in the nose.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    twincats “Seriously?? As someone who had a particularly tough one, fuck that. It took me two months to heal up after my first try at intercourse. That was the only comment I have ever read here that made me cross my legs and wince.”

    To be fair, I have no idea what a hymen is. I assumed it was a species of fairly small, thickset, herbivorous mammals in the order Hyracoidea. From your description I can only conclude that it has some remarkably bizarre nesting habits.

  • slc1

    Re 19

    there, not their.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty (Always growing and learning)

    They… after the first day of marriage, after her husband-

    *banghead*

  • M Groesbeck

    If kids over here can convince themselves it’s not really sex unless the penis goes in the vagina

    The so-called reasoning (at least among the Saddlebacking crowd here in the U.S.) is even more bizarre than that. Anal sex absolutely doesn’t count as sex…unless both participants are male, in which case it’s the only thing that counts as “sex”.

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