Turkey’s Justice Ministry banned the use of “virginity tests” after repeated objections to the practice made by human rights groups and others. “One must not examine people and then punish them in a way that will offend their feelings of shame or modesty,” read the Justice Ministry’s order.
The test, which many conservative Turkish families still believe is necessary to measure a girl’s purity and loyalty to her family, has prompted many young girls to kill themselves. At least five girls attempted suicide early last year in an effort to avoid the test. Human Rights Watch reported in January 1998 that the Turkish government was conducting virginity tests on hospital patients and prisoners as a matter of policy. Girls living in school dormitories were also frequent test subjects.