Quebec physicians ordered to stop performing virginity tests
Published Friday, October 11, 2013 9:09PM EDT
Quebec’s physicians college has forbidden its members from performing virginity tests after learning of four cases in which doctors were asked to conduct the gynecological exams.
The province’s College des Medicins said it recently provided guidelines outlining its stance on virginity testing, which examines whether a woman has engaged in sexual intercourse.
The procedure goes against its code of ethics, the college said, as physicians are not to intervene in their patients’ private lives.
The cases came to light when two University of Montreal ethicists researched virginity testing. The college said a physician also raised concerns about the gynecological exams.
Dr. Charles Bernard, CEO of College Des Medecins, said physicians still have a responsibility to evaluate if there is “any problem” that prompted the request, and whether there is a possibility the patient is in danger of being harmed.
“If you find there is something going wrong, you can recommend a patient to maybe visit a social worker, a psychologist,” Bernard told CTV Montreal.
Bernard said if the physician is very concerned about possible violence, they can even go as far as referring the matter to Quebec’s child welfare system.
And, if a physician does issue a “virginity certificate,” he or she could face disciplinary charges.
Council for the Status of Women told CTV Montreal it’s important to note that while there were four reported cases, this is not a trend, and the demands are coming from religious fundamentalist groups.
Shaheen Ashraf, from the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said virginity tests are “archaic.”
“We should be able to control our own bodies,” she said. “No one else should have the right to even think (along) those lines.”
Virginity tests have been in the spotlight in other countries in recent months.
Indonesian officials in August dismissed a proposal by an education official that would require female high school students to undergo the tests. The education official said the procedure stands to protect children from prostitution and premarital sex.
With files from The Associated Press