Thursday, February 28, 2002
Turkey abolishes virginity tests
A story released today by CNN reports that Turkey has overturned a controversial law
that forced schoolgirls suspected of having premarital sex to undergo virginity tests.
The government issued a decree banning forced virginity tests after five schoolgirls
tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison.
A number of teenage girls killed themselves each year because of the tests.
The decree came into force in 1999, but the disciplinary code governing schools that
was only changed this week to remove a reference to "chastity."
The clause referring to the need for chastity remained in the disciplinary code for
state schools and had been used in the past to justify forced virginity tests.
The practice of forced examinations was particularly common in state-run school
dormitories in rural areas of mainly Muslim Turkey, where sex before marriage is frowned
In extreme cases, it is known for men to kill unmarried female relatives if they are
found to have had premarital sexual relations.
Turkey is in the process of carrying out a range of reforms aimed at preparing it for
membership of the European Union which is particularly concerned about human rights.
But last year, Turkish Health Minister Osman Durmus ruled as part of a code that
midwife and nursing students must be virgins and could be tested to prove it.
The code, which applied to entrants at specialized medical schools, which have students
aged 13 to 17, outraged feminist groups.