When Bleeding Is Vital: Surgically Ensuring the “Virginal” State


Sohaila Bastami


         A young woman called me to ask for a referral to a physician who provided hymen reconstruction surgery. She had had premarital intercourse and came from a cultural background in which it was very important to “prove virginity” on the wedding night. This article deals with my internal struggle whether or not to provide the referral. I felt that providing it would have made me complicit in supporting gender inequality, as men are not required to “prove virginity” to get married. At the same time, I was concerned about the repercussions of not being able to “prove virginity” would have on the caller. I had no explicit guidance on what to do in such a situation—it was not covered by the professional responsibilities I had as a research assistant.



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