Category Archives: Hymenorophy

The “V” Word

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.

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Hymenorophy: Certificate of Innocence

By: Alexandra Kinias

Twenty four years old Radwa had just graduated from college and hired as an art teacher in a private school in Cairo. For Radwa it was very important to restore her virginity before she got married to the man who proposed to her through a family friend.  She desperately needed a Hymonorophy a.k.a Hymenoplasty to re-connect the tissue of the hymen, but couldn’t afford to pay for this procedure that takes about 30 minutes under local anesthetic from her small salary. Radwa’s  lover of four years, whom she had a sexual relation with but wouldn’t marry her because she was not a virgin,  paid for the expenses. It was his wedding gift to her. Unfortunately, this is not an episode of a Mexican soap opera. It is a real story that often happens in the Middle East. And Radwa is among the lucky ones who found someone to pay for the surgery.

For many years, girls at the age of marriage who had lost their virginity to a loved one, only to be abandoned by him, lived in absolute misery. Some committed suicide. Others faked their virginity, by spilling red liquids on theirs beds, and spent fearful hours worrying that the grooms would discover the trick. The consequences would be to be returned back to their parents’ house, like defected merchandise, with a scandal that would send them to the grave. Any girl, who refused to get married, raised the suspicions of her family that she was not a virgin. There was no other logical reason for her not to want to get married except covering up the mistake of losing her honor.

Honor, that’s what it is all about. In a region where religious scholars are more respected than scientists, and where women are blamed for God’s wrath and natural disasters, the existence of women’s hymen on their wedding nights is the sole proof of their purity, chastity, innocence, and honor. It is what separates an honorable girl from a prostitute. The girl’s virginity is a natural certificate, a social declaration of good behavior and her proof of innocence from having pre-marital sex.

Hymenorophies are not only wide spread in the Middle East, but also among girls of Middle Eastern and Asian descendants who live in European countries. These immigrants still live under their own codes of ethics and traditions where a family’s pride is boiled down to nothing else, but their women’s virginity.

With these operations, women finally found a solution and with it they could bury their pasts forever.  The irony is that  rarely you find a man with no pre-marital sexual relationships. These men have lost their virginity to a woman whom they most likely abandoned to get married to a certified virgin.

Doctors started these operations out of pity for the girls, but eventually these procedures became lucrative business. In Britain, the half hour procedure costs $2400. In the Middle East, prices are not that expensive, but they are still beyond the reach of a lot of women.

But China is always there with  affordable solutions, even to supply fake hymen to women who had lost their virginity. When these new Chinese merchandises flooded the markets of the Middle East for $15, men started to lose their minds. A leading Egyptian scholar demanded that the importers of these fake hymens should face death penalties. As an engineer I have learned that every action has a reaction, equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. In a society where women are not forgiven for losing their virginity, even if they were raped, as a reaction these operations were born out of the necessity for saving their lives. I still don’t see how the magnitude of the deceit behind restoring the virginity can equate to the magnitude of taking someone’s life for losing it.

Burying the past to protect their future is the only way for these women to survive in such unforgiving societies that otherwise wouldn’t give them a second chance. Who would blame them?

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