The importance of virginity for women in the Middle East is more than Taboo subject; it is an issue of a social, psychological and cultural affair.
Great concern and attention on “women in this part of the world are haunted by the idea of wanting to prove they are virgins from the time they become aware of this issue until their wedding night”.
One psychiatrist, the Jordanian Mohammed Habashneh, said the issue of women bleeding on their wedding night to prove they are virgins has always been a source of fear and concern for both men and women in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Pathologist Ahmad Bani Hani said about the same issue: Women are afraid they might not bleed and men are afraid that their performance on the night of marriage will not lead to their wives’ bleeding.
The consequences for a woman not to bleed on her wedding night could be dangerous, such as divorce and in some cases murder by their families: “first thing in the morning after the wedding night, wanting to examine the woman because she did not bleed,” said many specialists of Virginity issue.
This is such a humiliating process for woman when we know Men do not face similar embarrassing and stressful moments!
Bleeding on the wedding night takes precedence over more important issues such as having a happy and constructive marital life and children. While specialists saying that trust between couples should not be based on “drops of blood, but it seems that women in our part of the world are guilty [of not being virgins] until proven otherwise.”
From a medical point of view: The hymen is not 100 per cent indicative of virginity, women might not bleed on the wedding night because hymens are not one size. There are women who are born without a hymen or where the hymen is elastic and does not break.
Some specialists said: there is nothing in the Holy Koran or the Prophet’s sayings stipulating that a woman must bleed on her wedding night. But the common culture disagreed: “Islam implied indirectly that women should bleed in order to prove that they did not engage in sexual intercourse before getting married”.
Even when a brave male said the virginity issue is absurd because women are “our mothers, sisters, daughters and wives”, another recommended having his wife undergo a virginity test before the night of wedding “so that I will make sure my wife is a virgin and I will marry her with a peaceful mind.”
I am not a virgin!
There are people in Egypt who challenge our long established traditions, as a woman told us her own story:
“I am kind-hearted, sort of religious, I pray, I don’t lie, but losing my virginity has turned my life upside down. How it happened is a long story but the most important thing now is that this incident has turned my life into a living hell.
I feel bad and I have been punishing myself for such a shameful thing. I know that I am not a good girl and that God is not happy with me or what I have done. This is why I decided to wear the veil. I hate it and I hate how I look and feel while wearing it but I put it on because it protects me from people staring at me or gossiping about me. I feel that everyone knows my deep dark secret and I am hiding my shame behind my veil.”
The worst for hundreds women in our region is to be killed or punished unfairly every year in the because of the Virginity issue , while there is no many voices as an Iraqi female I heard when she refused to be one of long list of victims: “The whole issue of doubting a woman’s virginity is insulting. If my husband wants to take me to the Forensic Department to make sure I am a virgin, then I do not need such a man to start a life with nor have children with.”
*Academic and researcher from Iraq