Monday, January 29, 2007

The value of an intact hymen :: Gulf News

I read this morning in Gulf News about the black market for hymen restoration in the UAE. The price is Dh10,000. It is illegal for an unmarried woman to have her hymen surgically restored, but not illegal for a married woman to do so. Why a married woman would want such surgery I couldn't tell you, but it does give cover for the clinics that offer these procedures.

Why an unmarried woman would want the procedure is easy to explain: this culture highly values virginity in a bride and uses an intact hymen as the test. Vaginal intercourse, however, is not the only way the hymens are broken. An unintended consequence of the high value of a hymen is that girls avoid sports and other exercise. The GN article makes it sound as if only girls who are not vaginal virgins would want the procedure -- false, of course.

Secret Dubai has also posted on the story. She is wrong, though, in concluding that hymen restoration will make the value of an intact hymen zero. It will, though, mean that girls who have been raped will no longer be unmarriageable. That is, as long as: their identities are not made public, they can afford the surgery, the authorities do not crack down on the black market, and mothers of the husband-to-be do not insist on an invasive inspection to determine whether there has been surgery.

There is a way, actually, that Secret Dubai could be right. That is if the ready availability of hymen restoration changes behavior and more women engage in premarital sex. Then having an intact hymen would prove very little about whether you were a virgin or not.

GN has a companion piece entitled, 'If cosmetic operation is to deceive someone it is a crime', which explains why hymen restoration is regarded as a religious crime.

What about breast augmentation (deception of fertility) or nose jobs (deception of beauty of future children)? These are legal in the UAE.

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Anonymous site said...

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11:01 PM  

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