Health Other Issues Violence Against Women

New York, California Legislatures Introduce Bills Banning “Virginity Testing”

Lawmakers in New York and California are considering new legislation that would ban virginity testing—the first such bills in the nation.

The two bills were introduced after rapper T.I. said he subjects his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris to an annual gynecological exam to see if her hymen is “still intact.” The practice is condemned by three separate United Nations agencies for being medically unsound and abusive.

Despite the condemnation “virginity tests” receive, a 2017 study of nearly 300 U.S. OB-GYNs found that about 10 percent reported having been asked to perform a “virginity test” in the past year, and 34 percent of those asked agreed to perform it. Assemblymembers Michaelle Solages of New York (D-Elmont) and Lorena Gonzalez of California (D-San Diego) want to make those numbers zero.

New York State Assemblymember Solages introduced her bill late last year. In an interview with Elle Magazine, Assemblymember Solages explained, “I want hymen examinations to be a class D felony. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t even have to submit legislation like this. In a perfect world, women are treated as equal beings.”

California State Assemblymember Gonzalez introduced a similar bill Jan. 8. Both proposals would classify the exams as “unprofessional conduct” and would discipline doctors who performed or supervised the exams.

“So-called ‘virginity testing’ is a form of violence and harassment against young girls and women,” Assemblymember Gonzalez said in a statement. “There is no medical reason for this examination. It’s time for California to listen to calls from the international community and ban this traumatizing, sexist and unnecessary practice.”

[USA Today, 2/5/2020] [The Guardian, 11/7/2019] [World Health Organization, 10/17/2018] [Elle, 12/5/2019] [New York Assembly, 11/8/2019] [California Legislative Information, 1/8/2020] [NCBI, 8/31/2017] [Courier Journal, 1/31/2020]