Assw. Solages Introduces Bill to Ban Virginity Exams

Solages pushes to prohibit the unnecessary practice of “virginity tests”
November 8, 2019

Valley Stream, NY Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages has submitted legislation to prohibit the performance of hymen exams, commonly known as “virginity test”, on women as a means to prove virginity status. According to the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), a “virginity test” – exams in which two fingers or a speculum are inserted into the vagina in search of the hymen or to measure the elasticity of the vaginal walls – violates the rights of women and reinforces stereotyped notions of female sexuality.

Many experts note that the term “virginity” is not a medical or scientific term. Rather, the concept of “virginity” is a social and cultural construct – one that reflects gender discrimination against women and girls. Accordingly, the United Nations, along with the World Health Organization, U.N. Women and U.N. Human Rights, called for a global ban on the practice.

“Across our nation, new conversations are being had about the practice of hymen examinations as a means to ascertain whether a woman is a virgin,” stated Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages. “As a member of the Assembly Health Committee, it is my sincere belief that we must proactively challenge institutionalized misogyny in the health field. The notion that a woman's body can be subject to examination to prove their worth or dignity is an outdated patriarchal concept.”

The new law, which takes effect immediately, would ban the performance of professional hymen exams, and the bill stipulates that if a medical professional disregards these rules, it will be considered an act of professional misconduct.

“FIGO has defined the procedure as invasive and medically unnecessary,” explained Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages. "With trust being so vital to the healthcare profession, New York State must take every measure possible to ensure that medical procedures meet the highest ethical standards. I look forward to collaborating with advocacy groups on how to best ensure this bill passes muster and pushing this measure forward through the legislature ”

The World Health Organization states that the practice is a long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, spanning all regions of the world. Women and girls are often forced to undergo virginity testing for various reasons, including requests from parents or potential partners to establish marriage eligibility or even from potential employers.