Putting an end to a barbaric practice

I don't know whether to be pleased that the medieval and degrading practice of "virginity testing" is finally being banned in the UK or horrified that up to now it has still been happening.

This week MPs unanimously voted to add to the Health and Social care bill a ban on this intrusive and "indefensible" practice, making it a criminal offence with a potential prison sentence of up to five years to offer, carry out or facilitate such "tests" including helping arrange for women or girls to be taken abroad for them.

Health Minister Edward Argar told the House of Commons the practice was "repressive" and caused "long-term physical and psychological damage".

The World Health Organisation says it is a violation of human rights and adds that the tests, thought to occur in at least 20 countries, cannot prove whether a woman or girl has had sex or not, as the hymen can be broken in other ways - such as through tampon use or exercise.

Aa BBC Newsbeat investigation last year found 21 clinics in the UK offering them, at a cost of between £150 and £300.

Mr Argar said the ban had been discussed with ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who all wanted to "ensure the whole of the UK together tackles this abhorrent practice".


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