For Iran, virginity before marriage dey important for many girls and dia families. Sometimes men demand virginity certificate – na practice wey di World Health Organisation (WHO) see say e dey against human rights. But for past year, more and more pipo don dey campaign against am.
“You tricked me to marry you sake of say you no fit virgin. Nobody go marry you if dem know di truth.”
Dis na wetin Maryam husband tok to her afta dem make love for di first time.
She try to reassure am say even though she no bleed, she neva have sex wit anybodi before. But im no believe her and ask am to get virginity certificate.
Dis no dey uncommon for Iran. Afta getting engaged, many women go to doctor and get test wey prove say dem neva have sex before.
However, according to di WHO, virginity testing get no scientific merit.
Maryam certificate tok say her hymen type dey “elastic”. Dis mean say she fit no bleed afta penetrative sex.
“E hurt my pride. I no do anytin wrong, but my husband continue to insult me,” she tok. “I no fit take am anymore, so I take some pills and try to kill myself.”
Dem take am to hospital on time and she survive.
“I no go ever forget dose dark days, I lose 20kg [3 stone] dat time.”
Growing calls to end di practice
Maryam story na di reality of many women for Iran. To be virgin before marriage still dey important for many girls and dia families. Na value wey dey deeply rooted for cultural conservatism.
But recently, tins don start to dey change. Women and men around di kontri don dey campaign to end virginity testing.
Last November, one online petition receive almost 25,000 signatures within one month. Dis na di first time virginity
But recently, things have started to change. Women and men around the country have been campaigning to put an end to virginity testing go dey openly challenged my so many pipo for Iran.
“Na violation of privacy, and e dey humiliating,” Neda tok.
Wen she be 17-year-old student for Tehran, she lose her virginity to her boyfriend.
“I panic. I bin dey terrified about wetin go happun if my family find out.”
So, Neda decide to repair her hymen.
Technically, dis procedure no dey illegal – but e get dangerous social implications, so no hospital go agree to perform am.
So Neda find one private clinic wey go do am in secret – for heavy price.
“I spend all my savings. I sell my laptop, my mobile phone and my gold jewellery,” she tok
She gass sign one document to take full responsibility if sometin go wrong.
One midwife proceeded wit di procedure. It take about 40 minutes.
But e take many weeks for Neda to recover.
“I experience lot of pain. I no fit move my legs,” she tok.
She hide di whole tin from her parents.
“I feel very lonely. But I tink say di fear say dem go find out help me to tolerate di pain.”
For di end, di pain wey Neda endure na for notin.
One year later, she meet pesin wey want marry am. But wen dey have sex, she no bleed. Di procedure fail.
“My boyfriend accuse me say I dey try trick am into marriage. E tok say I be liar and e leave me.”
Pressure from di family
Despite say WHO don denounce virginity testing as dem tok say e dey unethical and lack scientific merit, dem still dey practice dis kind tin for several kontris, including Indonesia, Iraq and Turkey.
Di Iranian Medical Organisation maintain say dem only carry out virginity testing for specific circumstances – such as court cases and rape accusations.
However, most requests for virginity certification still dey come from couples wey dey plan to get married. So dem turn to private clinics – and dia mothers dey always follow dem.
One gynaecologist or one midwife go carry out test and issue certificate. Dis go include di woman full name, her fada name, her national ID and sometimes her foto. E go describe di status of her hymen, and include di statement: “Dis girl appears to be virgin.”
For more conservative families, di document go dey signed by two witnesses – normally di mothers.
Dr Fariba don dey issue certificates for years. She admit say na humiliating practice, but she believe say she dey actually help many women.
“Dem dey under pressure from dia families. Sometimes I go verbally lie for di couple. If dem don sleep togeda and want to get married, I go say in front of dia families say di woman na virgin.
But for many men, to marry virgin still dey very important.
“If girl lose her virginity before marriage, dem no go trust am. She fit leave her husband for anoda man,” Ali, one 34-year-old electrician from Shiraz tok.
Im tok say im don have sex wit 10 girls. “I no fit resist,” e tok.
Ali accept say double standard dey Iranian society, but im tok say e see no reason to break away from tradition.
“Social norm accept say men get more freedom dan women.”
Many pipo share Ali view, especially for more rural, conservative areas of Iran.
Despite mounting demonstrations against virginity testing, many believe say total ban on di practice by di goment and lawmaker dey unlikely anytime soon sake of say dis practice dey deeply rooted within Iranian culture.
Hope for di future
Four years after attempting to take her own life and living with husband wey dey abusive, Maryam finally dey able to get divorce through di courts.
She become single just few weeks ago.
“E go dey very hard to trust man again,” she tok. “I no see myself getting married for di future.”
Along with tens of thousands of other women, she also sign one of di growing number of online petitions to end issuance of virginity certificates.
Although she expect notin to change soon, maybe not even within her lifetime, she believe say one day women go gain more equality within her kontri.
“I sure say e go happun one day. I hope for future, no girls go go tru wetin I go tru.”
Source » bbc