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'Virginity repair' testing and surgery is set to be banned in England and Wales.
North West Durham MP Richard Holden has introduced a clause into the Health and Care Bill this week, in a bid to ban both practices.
Under new proposed laws, medical professionals who perform testing - where women are examined to check if their hymen is still intact - or hymenoplasty surgery, could face imprisonment.
Hymenplasty surgery is a procedure in which the very thin piece of skin that covers the entrance to the vagina - the hymen - is restored.
Last year, a shocking investigation by the BBC has found controversial tests, along with "virginity repair" procedures, are being advertised at medical clinics across Britain.
The hymen can break for a number of reasons, including during various different activities, such as horse riding and other sports, or by simply using a tampon. Despite this, the investigation found the tests are being sold for as much as £300.
Investigators contacted 16 clinics in the UK, with seven confirming they offered the intrusive testing. Others would not clarify.
All admitted to offering "virginity repair" - also known as hymen repair surgery - which can cost up to £3,000. The surgery involves stitching or reconstructing the hymen, allowing it to bleed again during sex. It takes less than an hour and is performed under local anaesthetic.
In some cases, 'kits' are also being sold online. For example, one company - Be Virgin - is offering a £51 'virginity revive bundle' which combines an artificial hymen repair kit and hymen blood capsules to mimic the "visual effects" of bleeding during sex.
Charity Karma Nirvana, who worked with BBC on the investigation, explained: "We believe that every woman deserves the right to make any decision about her body – free from shame, stigma or discrimination, without pressure to subscribe to ‘gender-based societal norms’, and without fear of harm.
"This is why we are campaigning to end the practice of virginity testing and hymen repair, in addition to tackling the shame and stigma commonly associated to ‘virginity’. ‘Virginity’ is a deeply embedded social norm that has no scientific basis.
"... It is time to ban the invasive, sexist practice of testing a girl’s or woman’s virginity, and to shut down the virginity myth once and for all. As part of this campaign, in addition to improving law and policy in this area, we are keen to break the myths that perpetuate harmful ideologies on virginity and the hymen."
For support, advice and to read more, please visit the Karma Nirvana website.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock
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