The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

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The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  Rain on Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:05 am

Once lost, virginity can never be replaced but modern medicine now offers women a near-perfect physical simulation of their lost innocence. Hymenoplasty, the surgical reconstruction of the hymen broken during a women's first experience of intercourse, or, increasingly, during demanding exercise or as a result of a collision or fall by women who've never had sex, has prompted a growing number of young betrothed women in France to make a last-ditch attempt to avoid the humiliation, repudiation, and possibly violence that could result from husbands and families discovering from blood-free bridal sheets that their wedding night had not been their first sexual experience.

Hymenoplasty has generated renewed attention here in the wake of a court ruling last month in the northern city of Lille, which annulled a marriage on the basis of a husband's complaint that his wife had falsely promised that she was a virgin a confession he obtained after furiously waving the new couple's spotless bedclothes before still-celebrating wedding guests. Though the decision made no mention of religion, the fact that the couple were Muslim sparked complaints that France's strictly secular state is being undermined by traditional Arab cultural strictures. The court ruling also infuriated feminists, who saw its acceptance of prior sexual experience as grounds for annulment as tantamount to treating marriage as the equivalent of a commercial transaction in which the buyer had discovered a hidden flaw in his purchase. Many Muslim leaders were also outraged, insisting that Islam does not demand virginity as a precondition for marriage, and claimed that the ruling belied the judge's archaic misunderstanding of the faith and its tenets.

Though an appeal by France's Justice Ministry resulted in the Lille ruling being overturned, the storm it provoked has focused media attention on young Muslim women who turn to hymenoplasty to avoid the fate of the repudiated Lille bride. News reports have featured traumatized patients discussing the reaction they'd have faced on their wedding night or following virginity examinations frequently required prior to traditional marriages. Some admit they've paid as much as $5,250 to have their hymens reconstituted in private French clinics; others go to cities in Tunisia, Algeria, or Morocco, where the procedure is even more common, and costs as little as $300. Though the number of Muslim women in the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and France undergoing the procedure is unknown, there's a consensus among doctors that hymenoplasty is increasingly common. Ironically, as some commentators note, the increase in the procedure reflects the growing emancipation of women from tradition-rooted communities, but also the ongoing male oppression signified by the obsession with female virginity.

"French Muslim women are increasingly defying the restrictions and repression men try to enforce, and leading full, modern lives including sexually," says Dounia Bouzar, whose recent book Allah, My Boss, and Me explores Islam in the French workplace. "The one time they feel obliged to make a concession to outdated attitudes is with the marital requirement of virginity a purely macho tradition that has no basis in Islam, and is certainly nothing courts should be respecting. This surgery is unfortunate, though it is a way for women who have insisted on living their own lives to avoid punishment under a backward custom."

Even then, there's plenty of anguish and surrender involved. Doctor Stephane Saint-Leger, head of the Children and Women's Ward at the Robert Ballanger Hospital in the ethnically diverse Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, agrees the social and sexual differences between young Muslim and non-Muslim women in France are shrinking including a trend of marrying later in life. That trend has generally reduced the likelihood of women of any faith marrying as virgins. But Saint-Leger says the pressure and intimidation evoked by the Muslim women who come to him for help as their traditional weddings loom frequently threaten their physical and psychological well-being. For that reason, he says, he often agrees to perform hymenoplasties, even though it's the kind of indirectly coerced act he considers ethically objectionable.

"They represent young Muslim women surrendering to unnecessary medical intervention due to unacceptable pressure," Saint-Leger says. "With this, its pressure from the traditional people. But elsewhere, women also surrender to unnecessary medical intervention to change their breasts, noses, lips, or entire face due to unacceptable pressure of the beautiful people."

Though the overturning of the Lille verdict removes the risk non-virgin Muslim brides could find themselves dragged to court on fraud charges by infuriated husbands, the cultural pressures some face remain sufficiently great that many will continue turning to hymenoplasty to restore the semblance of chastity. Many times, however, the ruse may all be for naught: Saint-Leger notes notes that 30% to 40% of both original and reconstructed hymens fail to produce the virginity-confirming bleeding when ruptured by penetration, anyway.

Source: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1822297,00.html

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Re: The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  Rain on Fri Jul 18, 2008 12:34 am

I think it is quite a controversial issue. The article depicts how some cultures and religions can have such a strong influence in peoples' mindsets, just like how the marriage in the Lille couple was annulled because the wife cheated about her virginity. Some women do get "punished" for not being a virgin before marriage. Does love equate virginity? I think some are overly particular with the issue of virginity of women. In fact, I think there are a lot of unfair treatments towards women despite a world more developed and open-minded. For example, there were cases where Pakistani women got burned and killed for just conversing with other men that they were not married to.

It is quite sad to know that there are actually women who go for such unnecessary surgical procedure just to restore their psychologically well-being more than the physical aspect. These women go through the pain to avoid pressure that comes from various sources primarily from their cultures and traditions. Then, it baffles me that are all values of cultures and traditions passed down for generations are good examples to follow?

I feel that education is one of the key solutions to solving social problems as such on a large scale. Providing education would allow some women to not follow their traditions and cultures blindly, but fight for their own human rights. By gaining knowledge and wisdom, more women would be saved from sufferings. They can now have a better mind of their own, and not be oppressed by their cultures and possibly discriminated by their communities.

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Re: The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  izzy on Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:16 am

I totally agree with you, Rain! Cool

Despite living in a globalised world, women are still being looked down by most people. And thus, many of them still face with these kind of prejudice and descrimintion. People have to be forward-thinking about their perceptions towards women. A woman can be a leader, just like a man too. Hillary Clinton and the late Benazir Bhutto are some of the women we should look up to as they are brave enough to be politicians, a career dominated by men.

Regarding the hymenoplasty, I believe that there is both the pros and the cons. The good thing about it is that, women can easily avoid any sorts of promiscuosity that they once had. In the future, when they get married to a new man in their life, their husband would not actually find out about their past. Hence, they will continue to love and have a healthy relationship with one another. However, undergoing hymenoplasty greatly shows women's dishonest act, be it towards themselves or their victims/loved ones. In this case, it will encourage women to be engaged in harmful activities such as being prostituism. This kind of behavior will definitely deteriorate their moral and social values. And it will definitely contradicts the idea on how people should have postive mindsets about women in general. Furthermore, if hymenoplasty persists among 'irresponsible' women, it would lead to sexual transmitted disease(STD), AIDS/HIV, and other sorts of unwanted effects.

Therefore, from this article, we can learn that we must always think twice before committing anything that will cause detrimental effects on us. My point is, we should know what is best for us and of course, education comes in place and matters the most, just like what Rain mentioned. For hymenoplasty case, it so-called gives women out there a second chance to do something right. It is up to their decision if they want to make it right and I hope they do. We women want to gain some control in everything we do too. Besides, how peace can be achieved if people keep arguing about the rights and throwing prejudicism towards the women population?
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Re: The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  tzuhui on Sun Jul 20, 2008 12:56 am

Hey, Izz you are online now?? Very Happy

This problem surrounding religion seems to stem from ignorance. As with Rain, i also feel that the solution to this problem would be education. Most religious based problems comes from misinterpretation of the religious text or twisted meanings from passing down from religious teachings through word of mouth. Muslims advocates forgiveness, promoting love and harmony. Such a religion would surly not discriminate women is such a way. The people are ignorant, and thus, are actually doing misdeeds under the name of their god. Their ignorance should be the thing to be punished, they are brandishing their own ideology as the word of god, without getting their facts straight while at the same time, cruelly humiliating women that did no more than what the men themselves cannot be said to be innocent of.
Thus, the responsibility of this education mission should be upon the government, the religious leaders and every individual. Everyone has a part to play in eradicating discrimination, and many religious leaders have already set a good example, teaching the masses the true way of the religion. Sadly, not many seem to have picked up the massage spread out to them, choosing to act blind and deaf, doublethink their actions to support macho pride.

Sry, if this doesn't make much sense, i'm tired..

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Re: The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  ~*~ Amirah ~*~ on Sun Jul 20, 2008 5:33 pm

Alright, firstly i would just like to point out that there is no such thing as obtaining back your virginity once it is lost. Chastity is something valuable that once gone, is impossible for even the most brilliant doctor to give it back. Chastity is more of a physhological thing than a physical one. Even though females may have their hymen reconstructed just before marriage and make it seem like they are 'virgins' on their wedding night, the guilt that the women feels for lying to her husband is overwhelming. This consititutes to self-denial. Plus, this feeling of guilt will haunt her for most of her life living as the man's wife. The feeling of insecurity and the feeling that she is not being true to her husband will add on to her worries and fears in life.

Referring to the case study on the lillie bride, i feel that it is so ignorant of the husband to create such a scene in front of his guests on his wedding night instead of confronting his bride first. For all we know, she might have torn her hymen through strainous activities in the past. Besides that, as Saint-leger notes that 30% to 40% of torn hymens will not bleed. Hence, this does not prove that a women is void of her chastity just because she does not bleed when having sexual intercourse! sheesh... The ignorance of these people just frustrates me!
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Re: The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  Jonathan on Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:56 pm

rain
....By gaining knowledge and wisdom, more women would be saved from sufferings. They can now have a better mind of their own, and not be oppressed by their cultures and possibly discriminated by their communities.

It is true that education would help these women to gain knowledge and learn about human rights. However, spousal abuse erupts from many factors. Even if these women are educated, it would take more tham eductaion to change the traditonal mindsets of men who believe that they are the dominent sex in the marrage. In the Final Testament of the Quaran, in verse 4:34.

[4:34] The men are made responsible for the women, and GOD has endowed them with certain qualities, and made them the bread earners. The righteous women will cheerfully accept this arrangement, since it is GOD's commandment, and honor their husbands during their absence. If you experience rebellion from the women, you shall first talk to them, then (you may use negative incentives like) deserting them in bed, then you may (as a last alternative) beat them. If they obey you, you are not permitted to transgress against them. GOD is Most High, Supreme.

The advise here is to first talk and then avoid sexual contact, provide the necessary time and space for both parties to cool off, reason, examine the problem and reach a favorable agreement for both of them. Futhermore, abuse of a wife will not happen if the man learns to follow the clear commandments in this verse. Abuse will only happen when a man fails to cool off and reason with himself or with his wife.

I chose this example because it shows the danger of some people misinterprating a verse and believe that they have reached the last resort. As these people believe that their decision is based on religion, any other factors that go against it would be wrong. Education would play an insignificant role in changing anyone's mindsets. Forcing our belief of human rights down their throats would just create more conficts and problems. The solution here lies upon religious leaders to educate their fellow muslims.

In the end, as much as we would want to educate them, the final decision is up to the individual. Whether or not he choses to go against the rules or listen to his religious leader is his choice. Whether or not to abuse their wives is also a choice that they hopefully would find hard to decide
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Re: The Dilemma of 'Virginity' Restoration

Post  Xavier on Mon Jul 21, 2008 1:47 am

In the present day society,especially in the more open-minded Western countries and the developing world,women have risen in status and undertaken responsibilities in various fields besides their traditional ones.For this article to be published, and for a relatively open-minded country of France to thrust this incident into the spotlight is alarming news to the global community. By using "perfection" in a physical aspect as the gauge of "love" in a marriage,is altogether atrocious and ridiculous. Love is the unconditional giving and expecting no returns, others see it as bringing happiness to a dear one but never the extent of physical "perfection", in this case the preservation of virginity.

In any case,one must also consider the circumstances involved,having a ruptured hymen does not equate to unfaithfulness in anyway as explained in the article that it could be due to strenuous exercises or even due to accidents or falls. Increasingly,there is also the possibility of date-rape cases resulting in this same social uproar. In Lille, the groom chose to respond in such a humiliating way,which removes what little dignity the bride has,by blowing matters out of proportion without finding the root cause,is this the one and only response the groom can give? The answer is no, because love for one transcends boundaries and imperfections and acceptance should be the way to go though it may seem difficult at first.

It's sad to see that in a bid to conform to what society deems as a "complete" marriage and to fix the broken "self",women have to resort to measures such as Hymenoplasty to repair the image that society has on women.

Religion twisted to support the male counterparts obsession with virginity shows disrespect to the status of women and also contempt for the spiritual bodies,and effectively deems the man as superior over the women. The traditional adoption if these deep-rooted mindsets are one of the causes for this social issue to still remain prevalent on societies of our world today. Statistics quoted by Doctor Stephane Saint-Leger, head of the Children and Women's Ward at the Robert Ballanger Hospital also show that surgical reconstruction has its imperfections too,with 30% to 40% of both original and reconstructed hymens failing to produce the virginity-confirming bleeding when ruptured by penetration that the virginity-obsessed man so desire.

What is deemed right or perfect by one individual may not seem so to another,so the question is where do we stop stereotyping and discriminating those different from what we perceive?
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