Should women have to prove their virginity before marriage?

06 August 2019, Kathmandu

Virginity is the state of never having had sexual intercourse, synonymously used with the concept of honor, virtue, purity, pureness etc. It is the state of a person who has never engaged in sexual activities. There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor and worth. People have very confined thinking and way of taking what is sex, which is directly related to virginity. Sex is an incredibly strong symbol of love between two people connected to physically and emotionally. According to Osho, “in the sexual intercourse both parties must be involved equally being mentally free from all sorts of anxieties and tensions as sex is the matter of gratification to mind and soul rather than the activity to sexual emotions.”

However, in Nepali society, which is adequately influenced by the Hindu culture, women are not free to make sexual decisions. Sex and sexual roles have always been determined by the men most of the time in the Nepalese society. Women are being taken in the form of commodity who is not allowed to question even regarding her overall rights. Similarly, there must be open public discourse on sexual issues. Women should develop the tendency to question regarding their sexual rights. Virginity must be seen as one of the most important thing relating to women sexual purity. Sexuality, on the other hand, in our society is regulated by religion which made sex shameful and taboo outside of marriage. Thus, it is made compulsion for women to remain virgin for their husbands to ensure the purity of her bloodline.

From the beginning of her wedding night, women are compelled to test their virginity by their so-called bridegrooms. Particularly, the bridegroom will go inside with a white bed sheet and he has to come out with a red bloodstain on the bed sheet. If vice-versa, then the brides are subjected to beatings, communal humiliation and even divorce. The most astonishing thing is how easily society takes the side of the men blaming women for not providing enough evidence that will prove her “virginity”. Thus, women are taught that their virginity is valuable, even the commodity. Meanwhile, men do not have to worry about being judged or shamed for losing their virginity.

Although virginity may seem like just a tradition, it is actually very problematic and even harmful. In some cultures, women who are not virgins when they marry can be exiled or even killed, particularly for shaming their families. However, virginity does not have any social implications or significance. It is a sign of purity and should not be made an excuse for men to harass and sexually assault women. Virginity is the matter of women dignity and compelling them to prove their virginity should be discouraged as far as practicable. One should not force women or to undergo virginity testing for various reasons. Governments, health professionals and communities must act to eliminate this ill practice and enact and enforce laws that ban virginity testing.


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