An undercover investigation by a Swedish television broadcaster has reportedly revealed that doctors are performing virginity tests on children and young women (video below).
The investigation, conducted by undercover journalists from TV4, involved two female colleagues playing the part of an aunt and her niece, Daily Mail reported.
In footage filmed on concealed cameras, the woman asked a doctor to perform a virginity test on her niece despite the girl's opposition to having one. She also asked the doctor for a virginity certificate.
TV4 claimed that teenagers are being forced to undergo the procedures by religious families who want to prove their children have not had sex before marriage.
Another doctor filmed for the documentary admitted to having conducted hundreds of tests, including on children.
A third journalist played the part of an actual victim. The victim, who was played by a journalist because she didn't want to reveal her identity, was 15 years old when her family forced her to have a virginity test.
“I still feel ashamed because no one can see the truth,” she told the interviewer of the experience, according to Daily Mail.
“I don't know what other people think, but there's nothing that proves anything that someone should examine me to see if I'm a virgin," she added. "It feels really disgusting."
“In a country that internationally has played a leading role in protecting women's human rights, it was almost unthinkable to me that this would be happening in a country like Sweden,” Liesl Gerntholtz from Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
Conducting medical examinations to determine a woman’s virginity has long been condemned, and it is referenced in a 2014 handbook from the World Health Organization (WHO) entitled “Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence."
“The WHO handbook upholds the widely accepted medical view that ‘virginity tests’ are worthless,” Gerntholtz said in December 2014, according to HRW. “Health authorities worldwide should end the practice of ‘virginity testing’ in all cases and prohibit health workers from perpetuating this discriminatory and degrading practice.”
The use of such tests has been reported in several countries in north Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia and India.
“‘Virginity testing’ is a form of gender-based violence and discrimination,” Gerntholtz added. “Authorities exploit this unscientific and degrading ‘test’ even though a woman’s sexual history has absolutely no bearing on whether she is qualified for a job or determining whether she was raped.”
Following the TV4 documentary, Swedish politicians have reportedly vowed to bring the issue up to the European Parliament.