Outraged by what they believe to be an attempt to deter women from the medical field, Turkish feminists have vowed to fight Turkish Health Minister Osman Durmus’ proposed virginity testing of nurses in medical school. Although virginity testing was officially banned in 1999 after five orphans drank rat poison after having their hymens examined, Durmus and the Nationalist Action Party are attempting to chip away at the ban by imposing new laws on women and girls in nursing programs.
“Those who are under the age of 18 are in need of protection from sexual harassment and it is our duty to protect them,” Durmas explained. But feminists who are familiar with Turkey’s treatment of women believe that the only things being protected by virginity testing are the harmful traditional health practices of a far-right government.
Virginity testing has been a method that many developing nations have used to ensure that a woman’s family receives a proper bride price. If a woman brings dishonor to her family by having premarital sex, her bride price drops and her family is shamed. Women who bring shame to their families often fall victim to honor crimes, some which include murder. If prosecuted at all, those family members are handed lighter sentencing because of tradition.