Campaigners are fighting to stop brides from a nomadic tribal group in India being forced to take “humiliating” virginity tests.
The test has been a keystone of the tribal wedding ceremony, but young people in the community of roughly 200,000 people have now begun to protest the practice.
The test reportedly requires couples to consummate the marriage in a hotel room on a white sheet, while village council officials and their families wait outside.
If the woman does not bleed during intercourse, grooms are allowed to annul the marriage, claiming their wives have not “proven” their purity.
The leader of the campaign to abolish the practice, Vivek Tamaichekar, said it was ”regressive” and a “complete violation of a couple’s privacy”.
“The way it is done is very crude and traumatising,” the 25-year-old said. ”They are forced to consummate the marriage with many people sitting outside the room, and the groom is often given alcohol and shown pornography in order to ‘educate’ him.”
He added: “The next day he is called for a ceremony and is asked in very derogatory terms to answer if his bride was pure or impure.”
Mr Tamaichekar is getting married this year and has already informed the panchayat – or village council – in his home city of Pune, that he and his wife will not take part in the practice.
He is calling for other young people to make a stand against the “conspiracy of silence.”
Despite widespread criticism, and the obvious controversy surrounding virginity testing, the practice still exists in many parts of the world.
In Indonesia, women are still required to undertake a virginity test if they want to join the army or police force.
The World Health Organisation has repeatedly stated virginity testing is “degrading, discriminatory, and unscientific”.
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