A group of United Nations agencies has issued a joint statement calling for a ban on tests meant to assess the virginity of a girl or a woman, which is a common practice in at least 20 countries. The statement, which was issued during the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics FIGO in Rio de Janeiro, stresses that such tests are both unscientific, and a violation of human rights. The practice is a long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, spanning all regions of the world. Women and girls are often forced to undergo virginity testing for various reasons, including requests from parents or potential partners to establish marriage eligibility or even from potential employers. It is mostly performed by doctors, police officers, or community leaders on women and girls, in order to assess their virtue, honour or social value.
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Children and Youth in History | Age of Consent Laws
In western law, the age of consent is the age at which an individual is treated as capable of consenting to sexual activity. Consequently, any one who has sex with an underage individual, regardless of the circumstances, is guilty of a crime. Narrowly concerned with sexual violence, and with girls, originally, since the 19th century the age of consent has occupied a central place in debates over the nature of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and been drawn into campaigns against prostitution and child marriage, struggles to achieve gender and sexual equality, and the response to teenage pregnancy. This module traces the shifting ways that the law has been defined, debated and deployed worldwide and from the Middle Ages to the present.
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Virginity Testing: A Global Crisis
The definition of consummation usually refers to penile-vaginal sexual penetration, but some religious doctrines hold that there is an additional requirement that no contraception must be used. The religious, cultural, or legal significance of consummation may arise from theories of marriage as having the purpose of producing legally recognized descendants of the partners, or of providing sanction to their sexual acts together, or both, and its absence may amount to treating a marriage ceremony as falling short of completing the state of being married, or as creating a marriage which may later be repudiated. Thus in some legal systems a marriage may be annulled if it has not been consummated. Consummation is also relevant in the case of a common law marriage.
This story was reported with the Fuller Project , a journalism nonprofit reporting on global issues impacting women. The fact is, there is simply no physical way to test if a woman, or a man, has had sex. Despite that, every year, thousands of women around the world endure invasive virginity tests, which are often sanctioned by doctors, hospitals, courts, and governments and carry tremendous and sometimes fatal punishments for women.