A New Bang for your Buck: Fake Hymens for Sale

Last month, Soad Abdel Rassoul from Radio Netherlands published an Arabic translation for a Chinese advertisement targeting Middle East countries. The product? Artificial Virginity Hymen.

The majority of comments on this product have been from men. Interestingly, the only woman to speak out on this issue so far is Abdel Rassoul.

Abdel Rassoul said:

China is a coutnry that has really understood us and revealed our truth, our diseases, and our obsession with image but not content. We are a contradictory nation that suffers from severe schizophrenia.

By selling us prayer beads, Ramadan lanterns, Hajj clothes, veiled Barbie dolls, Islamic swimsuits, and no hymens, China has been caressing the “Islamic” concept inside all of us by providing us with the image of what we want others to see in us, even if it is just a lie.

Afterwards, a lot of buzz started to evolve around the possibility of having such a product in Egypt: many bloggers posted their opinions about it, comments and topics were on several forums, even jokes started to spread about the issue. Sheikh Saied Askar, a member of the parliamentary bloc of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the Committee of Religious Affairs of the People’s Assembly, has stated a warning to the Egyptian government from allowing such an action on the bloc’s official website. Sheikh Askar stated:

Girls in general are afraid of committing such a sin for the sake of preserving their membranes and the presence of such products will tempt the weak souls to commit it as the availability of an alternative is now everywhere.

On the same site, Dr. Fared Ismail, member of the same bloc and Health Committee of People’s Assembly, strongly disapproved allowing the entrance of this product in the Egyptian market considering this action—in his own words–“mutilation of the society’s high values”.

In his comment on the issue for the BBC news, Professor Abdul Mouti Bayoumi, a professor at Al Azhar university, said this of the fake virginity product:

“[This product’s release is] Akin to spreading vice in society, a crime punishable by death in Islamic Sharia law.”

So any Egyptian girl who doesn’t have premarital sexual relationships does so only for the sake of staying a virgin? So virginity as a virtue and a concept is all about the hymen? I am not defending the product, nor am I defending premarital sex. I am offended by the implication and questioning the value of “virginity”.

An image of the fake Chinese hymen products. Image via EastSouthWestNorth.

An image of the fake Chinese hymen products. Image via EastSouthWestNorth.

Let’s assume for a second that this is the case, that the hymen is everything. So this is how women are supposed to be treated? Like children who are better kept away from danger cause they are incapable neither of protecting themselves, nor telling right from wrong? Notice how Askar refers to women as “girls.”

According to Askar, a woman is a weak creature who is incapable of choosing what to do and what not to do, and is easily tempted to commit “sins” if they became closer and easier to her. No mention is made of how the fake hymen may tempt men to sin—doesn’t a man face the same temptation?

Rather than asking ourselves what made China come up with such an idea or why there’s a very high possibility that the manufacturer of this product might hit his first million from selling it in Egypt, we are “afraid” that it might just make sex easier and in turn, more common.

In a community that worships appearances and gives minimal—if any—attention to the reality of things, it’s no wonder that news of a product like this can spread quickly.

Also a lot of the buzz surrounded the fact that the existence of such an option will make it harder for men to make sure that their brides are natural virgins or not, as if the worth of a wife was measured only by her hymen. Not to mention the fact that now women can have premarital sexual experiences without detection the same way men have been able to do.

What would make a girl uses such a product and lie such a lie? In a community that never blames a man for having premarital sex (and in fact sometimes considers it a plus), a woman takes all the blame, which can end in ruined reputations, inability to find a husband, or even “honor killings.” So the fake hymen is a way to survive, or at the least, have one’s cake and eat it, too.

Rather than fearing the spread of the complications, I think it’s better to look closer to the main reason of the problem … not just what it “looks” like or what’s on the surface.  Otherwise, don’t blame someone who tries to fix the problem in the same way!

Editor’s Note: The story about a fake hymen for sale has recently been uncovered as a hoax, and the reporter who covered it, Amira al Tahawi, has been fired from her position at Radio Netherlands.

  • Farzana

    And we wonder why the west charges Islam with treating women like sex objects!

  • http://hijabchique.blogspot.com Celeritas

    The real tragedy about such products and their surgical equivalent the hymenoplasty, is that they encourage a situation where deceit lies at the core of the marital commitment. By not acknowledging that the acceptance of male premarital sex must inevitably lead to premarital sex by females is to refuse the really examine the issue.

    Something that concerns me as a Muslim is the expectation that a man must provide a large dowry, lavish wedding and material comforts to be a considered eligible for marriage. We are at the point now that in some areas the time difference between the point when a young Muslims becomes sexually aware till the age of marriage may be 10 -15 years. Of course even if this was not an issue premarital sex would still continue but I think that costs of marriage being in excess of a many times a man’s full yearly wage is absurd.

    Muslims need to be more willing to discuss the modern realities of sexuality instead of merely condemning a product which has filled a gap in the market, and those women who use it.

    [This comment has been edited to fit within moderation guidelines.]

  • Ahmad

    On the note of virginity and hymens, it is a sad and stupid notion held by men that bleeding or hymens prove virginity whereas in actual fact it is NOT a proof scientificaly. Sad thing is, women want to make sure that their dumb husbands don’t ditch them due to hymens being broken or torn during normal occurrences like horse riding,

    The Muslim Brotherhood along with the state should have a campaign to make sure people educated about the hymen and that it proves nothing. The product is fine, it doesn’t give excuses for people to have premarital sex, as surgeries can easily be done for hymen replacement.

    [This comment has been edited to fit within comment moderation guidelines.]

  • http://getoutlines.wordpress.com Safiya Outlines

    Salaam Alaikum,

    What a fantastic analysis, masha Allah.

    This is very interesting, especially after the Egyptian Mufti Ali Gomaa ruled that hymen replacement surgery was permissible. Such howls of outrage at the thought of women being able to hide their sexual history in the same way as men.

  • http://hijabtrendz.com/ Mariam

    The first thing that came to mind when reading this is GROSS who even comes up with an idea for a product like this? I wonder what it’s made of?

    The second thing I think of is how frustrating it is that once again people are obsessed with a woman’s virginity. If someone is going to have premarital sex, then that’s their issue to deal with. I don’t think Muslim women stop from having it because they want to keep their hymen in tact. If they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it. It’s like the whole thing with Plan B in the US. If the birth control is over the counter critics argue then more girls are going to go have sex because they won’t be worried about getting pregnant.

    I agree with the author of this post, what kind of lie would someone want to live by having a fake hymen? What a great way to start a relationship by hiding something. I hope more women whether they are virgins or not can find a husband who is understanding and compassionate without a care for the whole virginity issue.

  • Zahra

    Spot on! It’s not the product–which probably comes in response to demand–but the underlying assumptions that are the problem.

    The idea that virginity is somehow “all about the hymen” is absurd. It ignores the wide variations in women’s bodies, the high chance that physical activity not even remotely related to sex can rupture a hymen (if you have one), and that there are lots of forms of sexual activity that don’t involve vaginal penetration. It’s a myth that doesn’t match up to biological reality–but we keep talking about it, because societies want to have an easy way to separate “good” women from “bad.”

    If people really cared about virginity (and I respect those who do), they wouldn’t dismiss women who’ve never had sex but don’t have hymens, while lauding sexually active women who still have them. Nor would they praise a man for having premarital sex and punish a woman for the same.

    Great piece.

  • Jouri

    Let’s please refer back to the Quran itself regarding this issue of virginity and premarital sex.

    “Noor 24:2] The adulteress and the adulterer – punish each one of them with a hundred lashes; and may you not have pity on them in the religion to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day; and a group of believers must witness their punishment.

    [Noor 24:3] The adulterer shall not marry except an adulteress or a polytheist woman, and none shall marry an adulteress except an adulterer or a polytheist; and this is forbidden for the believers.

    [Noor 24:4] And those who accuse chaste women and do not bring four witnesses to testify – punish them with eighty lashes and do not ever accept their testimony; and it is they who are the wicked.

    [Noor 24:5] Except those who repent after this and reform themselves; so indeed Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    From reading these verses that were brought down. It shows clearly that to be held in esteem chastity is a good thing. I think all societies at one point or another held this to be a virtue not a vice. Even in western society and Christian nations the concept of the Virgin Mary and Jesus having lived as a virgin are held to great honor. Therefore, there is no question this is a good thing. However, on the flip side it is more apparent now than ever before societies are headed in the opposite direction. In islam there is a distinction drawn between a married woman or married man having sex outside of marriage in which the punishment is death and a single man or single woman who slip up and have premarital sex or sex outside of marriage. Their punishment is less severe. However, please not the verse in the Quran that follows these rules that clearly states that those who recant their ways and try to better their lives are forgiven by God. Therefore, even in an Islamic society there is room for forgiveness and mercy. I think that one of the greatest qualities is that though we are human and sometimes make mistakes. God is forgiving and merciful so who are we as human beings to not forgive or to judge others. There is a clear indication in these verses that yes there is punishment for a sin, but there is also redemption. And a good deed can clear ur accounts for a bad deed. Therefore, our societies should not condone premarital sex or sex outside of wedlock, but if a mistake is made there are ways to atone and a sincere willingness to change can be met with forgiveness and mercy.

  • Alia

    This whole (fake hymen) issue and its huge repercussions truely reveiled how mutilated our eastern societies are.
    First of all our own delusions, sexual mania and virginity obsession made us a joke everyone is laughing at and trying to make the best profits from. Our sheer stupidity and deep ignorance made us a victim of extorsion.
    Blaming women for all, humiliating and treating her a sexual object is nothing but a passive aggression from a society lost its honour and self-respect . We are looking for shapes and appearances to substitute our lost dignity; and this shape is merely a women’s hymen.

  • http://www.wluml.org Rochelle

    Well said piece.

  • Nissa

    “Also a lot of the buzz surrounded the fact that the existence of such an option will make it harder for men to make sure that their brides are natural virgins or not…”

    Welcome to our world fellas! Men think them having premarital sex isn’t so bad because society seems to give this message. About time they focused on the message Islam gives….The whole buzz around this is downright embarrassing- when people are starving, suffering major human rights abuses and the world is in environment meltdown…All Muslims care about are women and their hymens. (What the hell?!)

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  • Alia

    Jouri,

    There is no single verse in the holy Qur’an mentioning death punishment to those who have a sexual relationship outside their marriage..I know there is a hadith ..but when it comes to (Hodoud) I believe it is only the Qur’an we should refer to…

  • rania

    Rania
    egyptian men have premarital sex with several girls and they are expecting to have a virgin wife , not only with hymen but with no one who touched her beforee , i think the problem is not in the product unless we need to put our heads in the sand and make our selves blind about the existing facts , and why are all this chit chat about this product as if no one has an idea about the virginity surgeries that became very common , so the issue is about how do we face reality not about the reality it self

  • http://dalyax.livejournal.com Dalya

    In my opinion and countless rants, in the Arab world, marriage is not really a “blessing” anymore. It’s more of a “convenience”. A convenience in order to get the following: Sex (mostly), respect from family, and a place to stay. So for example, if a man is cleaning up his drug addiction..they’d suggest him that it’s a good idea to find a nice virgin Muslim girl to marry. Marriage is basically a cure for a man’s past.

    If a woman has had premarital sex in such a strict society with family standards, than OMG..that means…A MAN HAD PREMARITAL SEX TOO. WHY DON’T YOU GO TARGET THEM TOO?

    And got really angry over this quote:
    “…According to Askar, a woman is a weak creature who is incapable of choosing what to do and what not to do, and is easily tempted to commit “sins” if they became closer and easier to her…”

    Again with extreme Muslim men saying women are stupid. Are you serious? Women mature faster than men and know exactly what to do. Choosing what to do? Omg, if I had premarital sex, I’d be dead. So duh, I just CHOSE WHAT TO DO. I wish I could virtually crack some skulls. A lot of these men should not even speak, they only end up blaming women for a problem in society and are hypocrites themselves.
    I’ve had men tell me that women are crooked creatures and can snap from trying to be changed.

    I *hate* hyprocritical religious people.

    And I agree the product would make a life based on a lie. But it’s so depressing and disgusting that the world has a fascination and obsession with a woman’s virginity. It’s very unfair that most of the Muslim woman population are married virgins and most of their husbands were never virgins at marriage, estagfirAllah. This is why I do not want to get married. I very much prefer to die a virgin and not save myself for such filth. men expect something precious in return.

    Men need to stop blaming women for everything, men need to look at each other and scrutinize themselves before they blame the opposite gender.

    [This comment has been edited to fit within moderation guidelines.]

  • Sekai

    Why are Egyptian OB-GYN’s neglecting to inform the Muslim Brotherhood that some women are born without hymens, some women have weak hymens that break easily, or that some women still have hymens after child birth? Even better, why don’t they inform them that virginity(as a medical condition) is a myth? It seems to me that the problem is that those who know better, refuse to tell others the truth. I think they’re is way too much lying in the world, and if we would just tell the truth, we would have a much better world.

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  • Dr.Cardiac Surgeon

    I, as a man, as a Muslim,a brother, a husband,a father, Am Proud Of You Young Women and the way you express your thoughts, the way you analyse, I am Proud Of having All Of You As Sisters, Thank you


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