France plans to criminalize “virginity tests” and eliminate polygamy

3 hours ago
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The French government plans to introduce a bill that would provide for prison sentences and fines for doctors who provide the controversial so-called “virginity certificates” needed for traditional religious marriages.

This is part of a plan aimed at strengthening French secular values ​​and combating what President Emmanuel Macron calls “Islamic separatism”.

But the French advisory group on abortion and contraception says that stopping “virginity tests” requires broader educational work.

The United Nations says such tests should stop.

The French Interior Ministry says the bill – yet to be fully discussed by French politicians – proposes one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros for any medical professional who issues a “virginity certificate”.

According to the “France 3” news channel, about 30% of French doctors say they have been asked for such certificates, and most of them refuse.

The World Health Organization says that the practice of examining the hymen with eyes or fingers cannot prove whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse or not. The organization says it also violates human rights.

How widespread is this practice?

Dr. Ghada Hatem, a gynecologist, told “AFP”, “This matter in France does not affect thousands of women – three women ask me, maximum [الحصول على شهادات] every year”.

She added that in many cases, it is girls of Moroccan origin who ask for this.

She told France 3 television that she had provided such testimonies to women and girls who feared physical violence from relatives or a violation of family honor.

“If they tell me my brother will hit me, my father will suffocate me, and my in-laws will harm my family’s reputation,” she added. “I have no reason not to believe them.”

And “virginity tests” have been documented in many countries by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and other organizations. It is carried out not only for religious reasons, but sometimes in rape investigations or upon recruitment into the security forces.

BBC Arabic reported last year that such tests were more common in North Africa, the Middle East, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and South Africa.

A United Nations statement in October 2018 urged governments to ban such tests, but it also called for awareness-raising campaigns to educate societies and “challenge myths about virginity and harmful gender norms that focus on controlling the sexuality of women and girls and their bodies.”

Marlene Schiappa, the minister in charge of French citizenship, said the bill – which will be presented to parliament in December – should also include penalizing those who request “virginity tests,” such as parents or fiances.

Muslim women can face rejection from their families and the community, and some have even been killed, because they had sex before marriage.

Many other traditional religious groups require women and girls to be “pure” before marriage.

In a speech on Friday, President Macron spoke against extremism in some French Muslim communities, saying that a minority of France’s estimated six million Muslims were at risk of forming a “counter society”.

Two veiled women

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The new bill allows polygamy to be excluded from France.

Schiappa said the new law should also prohibit “certificates of suitability that have nothing to do with a person’s health.”

The French Consultative Group on Abortion and Contraception, a French association that advises on contraception and abortion, said it supported the government’s stance against “virginity tests,” but warned that in some cases women were at real risk and “the ban will simply deny the existence of such practices.” Societal, without making it disappear. “

“We believe that this issue should be addressed completely differently, so that men and women free themselves and reject the weight of these traditions,” the consultative group said.

Addressing multiplayer Wives

Under current French law, extensions of residence permits to foreigners can be refused if they are in multiple marriages, but Schiappa said the new law would go further, allowing France to rid itself of polygamy.

It added that existing protections against forced marriage would also be tightened. The bill would enable a third party to alert a civil servant if there were suspicions that the marriage was taking place without the consent of the two partners.

The employee then interviews each partner, and if a forced marriage is still suspected, the matter can be referred to prosecutors.

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