Viewers 'Utterly Horrified' At Britain's 'Virginity' Clinics On ITV
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So-called 'virginity clinics' were the latest controversial topic to be investigated by ITV's Exposure, which aired on Monday.
The team were looking into a process called 'virginity testing', questioning how many pharmacies in London secretly offer it to young women and girls.
Virginity testing is a common theme among some conservative religious communities who don't believe in having sex before marriage - reporter Sahar Zand particularly looked into the concerning practice among strict Muslim communities.
The test is often associated with 'honour' crimes, in which violence is inflicted upon a family member in the name of 'dignity', or 'shame'.
Shockingly, reporters discovered that five out of nine pharmacies visited in London were willing to perform the 'virginity test', or signpost customers to those who do. While the test confirms whether a hymen is still intact (ignoring outside factors such as natural wear-and-tear), the team also explored the possibility of 'hymen repair'.
More than 30 clinics offer hymen repair service in the UK - as the practice hasn't yet been outlawed. When asked what he'd do if future legislation means it becomes illegal, one pharmacist said he'd 'have to lie'.
'Backroom' tests are provided in the name of honour, as sex before marriage is seen as not following one of the most vital rules of some religions.
Viewers were largely 'outraged' by the exposé, and took to Twitter to express their disgust.
"Virginity Clinics Uncovered... completely and utterly horrifying", wrote one user. Another branded the programme "absolutely shocking" and "very upsetting".
One Tweeter pointed out that Muslim communities are not the only religious individuals to feel the effects of virginity testing. "Those poor girls", she said. "But let Britain not be complacent. Obsession with girls' virginity infects Evangelical Christian churches too. It's toxic, hypocritical and has lifelong consequences for women".