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Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, has joined a cross-party coalition of MPs and women’s rights organisations in backing New Clause 1 & 2 to the Health and Care Bill, to ban so-called ‘virginity testing’ and the practice of hymen ‘repair’ surgery.
So-called ‘virginity tests’ and the practice of hymen ‘repair’ surgery are both currently legal and are being conducted by doctors in the UK to ‘check’ or ‘restore’ the virginity of a woman, often prior to an arranged marriage.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that so-called ‘virginity testing’ is: “A violation of the victims human rights and is associated with both immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to her physical, psychological and social well-being.”
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) strongly oppose the practices of virginity testing and hymenoplasty on the grounds that neither is medically required in any circumstance and support both the new clauses.
New Clause 1 and New Clause 2 has received support from over 50 MPs from all main parties, including former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Women and Equalities Select Committee Chair Caroline Nokes, Plaid Cymru Leader Liz Saville Roberts, Lib-Dem Sarah Olney, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding Jess Phillips, Women’s Health All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair Jackie Doyle-Price and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
The Government has committed to ‘work to criminalise virginity testing’ through their recently published strategy on tackling violence against women and girls but Women’s rights organisations Karma Nirvana, IKWRO, MEWSo, The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and The Royal College of Midwives are calling for both virginity tests and hymenoplasty are banned at the same time in law.
Mr Metcalfe said: “Women and girls deserve to grow up free from notions of ‘breaking their womanhood’ so they ‘bleed on their wedding night’. These traumatic practices have no basis in medical science, harm women and girls and perpetuate dangerous myths of ‘purity’.
“We must act now to stop both ‘virginity testing’ and hymen ‘repair’ surgery. That’s why I am pleased to be backing New Clause 1&2 to the Health and Care Bill as I call on the Government to end this violence against women and girls for good.”
Richard Holden MP, who tabled the New Clauses said: “I am delighted to have received the support of Stephen Metcalfe MP for New Clause 1 & 2.
The Health and Social Care Bill is the best opportunity to ban these oppressive practices once and for all. It is great to see cross-party work, alongside charities and health professionals to tackle violence against women and girls.”
Mr Metcalfe has also launched a coronavirus information page for constituents on his website www.stephenmetcalfe.org.uk