By: Alexandra Kinias
When I first read that some Egyptian men are calling for the government to issue certificates of virginity for the brides-to-be prior to marriage I thought it was a joke. Sadly enough it was not. After reading few articles that addressed the issue, I slid into a brief moment of disbelief, which was replaced by shock and anger at the degrading situation that women must survive in.
For any westerner, it might be hard to comprehend that in this time and age still exists a species of men who seek their government’s intervention to guarantee the virginity of their brides-to-be. Unfortunately they exist in societies where nothing is as important in the competitive global arena as the delusion of honor.
Egypt is a society of contradictions. While religious conservatism is growing, adultery is not uncommon, but hardly punished unless a crime is committed. In this society men have given themselves the right to fondle, or rape or live in sin with another’s man sister, daughter, wife or mother, yet they demand that the women they tie the knot with must be virgins and inexperienced. And for that they are willing to walk that extra mile.
The hypocrisy that exists in the society forced women to reconstruct the illusion of virtue to keep men content and satisfied and to spare their lives and maintain a respectful social image. With men’s obsession over virginity, those who lost it sought the underground hymenorphy operations to restore it. These operations are common and widely practiced, but their costs are often beyond the means of a lot of women. The Chinese invention of the fake hymen made the restoration of virtue available at a reasonable price. This new product that is intended to fool the husbands into believing that their wives are virgins by stimulating the bleeding of the bride on her wedding night stirred a lot of controversies and was debated in the Egyptian parliament and its import was officially banned.
Both the loss of the virginity and restoring it is causing these men nightmares; as if women’s integrity represented in the existence of their hymens, became the decisive beacon that secures their whole male existence. And in fear of being tricked into marrying a second hand wife, voices of young men are growing louder requesting a signed certificate from an accredit gynecologist to assure them that their wives-to-be are virgins.
Dr. Heba Kotb, an arising sexologist in Egypt, addressed this issue on her television talk show, ‘Big Talk’. A guest confessed in front of the camera that her fiancé suggested they take medical tests before their marriage. The guest was surprised when she found the doctor checking her virginity as per her fiancé’s request. Before leaving the clinic the girl, who was indeed a virgin, returned the ring to her fiancé and broke the engagement. She couldn’t continue a relationship that was founded on suspicions, she told Dr. Kotb.
Of course not all men agree to this procedure, but those who do have expressed a desire to include such certificate among the marriage papers. The justification to this ludicrous humiliating request is that an honorable woman who had guarded her virginity by her life won’t object to this demand. Refusal would simply imply her impurity.
I’m certain that people will accuse me that I’m encouraging women to lead promiscuous lives, which isn’t the case. I’m merely concerned at how women’s image has degraded in men’s eyes to the extent that nothing else matters, while setting the foundation for a lifetime relationship, other than the hymen. This thought leaves me wondering whether these men demanding the virginity certificate would sign in return certificates that guarantee women’s full financial rights in case of divorce or to repeal all injustices against them. I’m not optimistic that this will ever happen as long as women’s rights are still decided by men.