Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Social pressures force Tunisia women to fake virginity  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 08/04/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!

(MENAFN - AFP) It happens every April ahead of the summer marriage season, says Tunisian gynaecologist Faouzi Hajri -- desperate brides-to-be beg for surgery to make them "virgins" again for their wedding night.

Fearing rejection as "used" women in a conservative Muslim country where premarital sex is nevertheless common, Tunisian women are increasingly opting for the sort of surgery offered by Doctor Hajri.

But it doesn't stop them regretting the need to convince new husbands of their purity.

"A woman's honour shouldn't be determined by a few drops of blood," says Salima, a 32-year-old who admits she had the operation so that her "honour" was not in question on her wedding night.

It is easy for a woman to have her hymen surgically reconstructed in Tunisia.

The routine hospital operation takes around 30 minutes and costs from 400 to 700 euros (550 to 960), with a less permanent version needing to be done within a week of the wedding, while the stitches hold.

"The number of women resorting to hymenoplasty or hymenorrhaphy (as the operations are known) has gone up a lot in recent years," says Moncef Kamel, a doctor in the southern island of Djerba.

The women he operates on -- around 100 each year, aged between 18 and 45 -- come with their faces hidden behind a scarf and dark glasses, "have a normal, active sex life", and generally hail from working-class backgrounds.

"It's a taboo subject, which explains why there's a lack of official statistics," says Doctor Hajri.

The Tunis-based gynaecologist says he also treats about 100 women annually, including from neighbouring Libya and Algeria.

- Men want virgin brides -

Since the 1950s, Tunisia has been considered the most progressive country in the Arab world in terms of women's rights, and politicians enshrined gender equality in the new constitution adopted in January.

Demographic changes have reinforced personal freedoms, with sex outside marriage increasingly common and more people opting to marry later.

But conservative attitudes persist, and for many Tunisian menarrying a virgin remains a priority, hence the rising demand for hymen restorations.

For Tarek Belhadj Mohamed, a sociologist, such male attitudes reflect the "hypocrisy" of Tunisian society, which he said refuses to recognise the change in behaviour of a large section of the population.

Research by psychoanalyst Nedra Ben Smail indicates that just five percent of Tunisian young women are not worried about losing their virginity before marriage, while more than 75 percent of women appearing to be virgins on their wedding night have had the operation.

"The Tunisian way of life seems modern and open, but the reality is different: our society and even our ruling elite is in theory tolerant on the question of virginity, but when it affects them personally, virginity is a primordial condition for marriage," said Belhadj Mohamed.

"Virginity certifies a woman's validity in our society where her purpose is essentially sexual and reproductive, while men have to 'train' so that they are sexually mature when they get married," he argued.

He called the hymen operation a form of "discrimination towards women".

- Lying under pressure -

Salima agrees, despite having consented to the operation herself, saying she was forced into it by "the hypocrisy of men and of our society".

The young woman decided one day that she would be honest with her boyfriend, whom she had not slept with, and told him she was not a virgin.

"But as soon as he knew, he refused to marry and did everything he could to get me into his bed. That's the way Tunisian men think. A woman who has had sex before marriage is just a slut and can't be a good mother!"

Another young woman, Sabra, believes unmarried women should have the right to a sex life just like the men, and that virginity is never a guarantee of fidelity.

But the 27-year-old also chose to lie and yield to social pressures, rather than run the risk of remaining single.

"If I had told my husband that I wasn't a virgin, he would never have agreed to marry me. And it's the same for many women in Tunisia."



  MENA News Headlines
 Oct 22 2016 - Reckless driving: Motorist fined QR10,000Gulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) A Doha Criminal Court has ordered a young motorist to pay a fine of QR10,000 for causing damage to another vehicle while driving recklessly on a public road. Local Arabic ...

 Oct 22 2016 - UCI World Championship raises profile of cyclingGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The recently-concluded UCI Road World Championships Doha 2016 has raised the profile of cycling in the country, Qatar Chain Reaction (QCR) patron Farhan al-Sayed has said. ...

 Oct 22 2016 - Qatar- Business growth: Ministry issues social media tips for SMEsGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) on Friday issued a series of tips for entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) about the role of social media ...

 Oct 22 2016 - FM calls for collective action to protect civilians in SyriaGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani has called for collective international action to protect civilians in Syria, who are under constant bombardment ...

 Oct 22 2016 - Qatar- Court reviewing murder caseGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) A Doha Criminal Court is reviewing the case of an expatriate man accused of killing his friend, local daily Arrayah reported. According to the charge-sheet, the accused stabbed ...

 Oct 22 2016 - QC provides aid in AleppoGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Qatar Charity has said around 2,000,000 people have benefited from its relief projects, carried out over the past six months in Aleppo (Syria) and its countryside. The relief ...

 Oct 22 2016 - MEC holds seminar to raise awareness about breast cancerGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC), as part of its community programmes, organised a seminar to raise awareness about breast cancer under the theme 'Early detection: ...

 Oct 22 2016 - QC to launch new relief drive in YemenGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Qatar Charity (QC) has carried out a field survey in Al Hudaydah, Yemen, to identify the requirements of people living there and alleviate their suffering by launching a relief ...

 Oct 22 2016 - Healing experience of a breast cancer patientGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) A breast cancer patient, treated at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), has shared her experience and highlighted the excellent care and treatment she received. In connection with ...

 Oct 22 2016 - Katara exhibition displays works inspired by Islamic cultureGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Katara – the Cultural Village, in collaboration with the embassy of Portugal in Doha, has inaugurated a modern jewellery exhibition by a Portuguese artist named ...





Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Search News
Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices


Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks

Saudi Arabia 

Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor


Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters

© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help