A member of Egypt's parliament wants universities to perform virginity tests on female students.
In an interview with Egyptian newspaper Youm 7, Ilhamy Agina said virginity should be a prerequisite for admission to a university, the Daily Mail reports.
By requiring female students be virgins, Agina believes it would help end the practice of unregistered common-law marriages that occur between young Egyptians who cannot afford formal weddings.
“Any girl who enters university must be examined to prove she is a maiden,” he said.
Unregistered marriages, called "urfi" marriages, have grown in popularity with young Egyptians, according to Islam Awareness.
“The high cost of marriage forces many young couples to wait several years before they marry. Conservative Egyptian society forbids sex before marriage, so many young people consider the urfi marriage a solution,” the sites explains. “Urfi marriages are conducted by a Muslim cleric in the presence of two witnesses. However, they are not officially registered and are not financially binding on the man.”
Urfi marriages have been recognized by Egyptian law since 2000, but should the couple divorce, the woman is not eligible for alimony or child support.
Agina’s solution to curbing unregistered marriages in Egypt was met with harsh criticism.
“We have a member of parliament obsessed with sex,” liberal dissident and journalist Khaled Dawoud said.
“Didn’t I tell you the bottom is still far, and worse is to come?” lawyer Gamal Eid tweeted.
But Agina later claimed that his remarks were misinterpreted.
“People have been attacking me since yesterday and they're upset and such,” he said. “I’ve decided to not deal with the media.”
“I did not make a demand, I made a suggestion,” he said of testing the virginity of female university applicants. “There’s a big difference between a demand and a suggestion.”
Agina said that the Youm 7 reporter asked him what the government’s role is in ending common-law marriages.
“I said, well, it's not the government's right to ask a girl or a man whether they've had a [common-law] marriage,” he said. “'But maybe, maybe ... just as a suggestion that may or may not be implemented -- the government could tell university hospitals to conduct [drug] and virginity tests.”
He added that the results of the tests could then be shared with the students’ parents.
Agina has come under fire for controversial remarks in the past.
On the topic of female genital mutilation, he said earlier in September that he supported the illegal but still widely practiced procedure in Egypt.
“We are a population whose men suffer from sexual weakness, which is evident because Egypt is among the biggest consumers of sexual stimulants that only the weak will consume,” Agina said, according to Parlmany as translated by Israellycool. “If we stop FGM, we will need strong men and we don’t have men of that sort.”