Richard Holden MP today asked the Home Office Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins MP, to consider his amendments NC1 and NC2 to end virginity testing and hymenoplasty.
Richard Holden MP has tabled these two new clauses to the Health and Care Bill (HCB), to criminalise the practice of so-called ‘virginity testing’ and hymen ‘repair’ surgery following his Private Member’s Bill, which fell at the end of the last session, which you can read about on the BBC, the MailOnline, Metro, The Express and The Independent.
New Clause 1 and New Clause 2 quickly received cross-part support for over 27 of his colleagues, including the former Health Secretary, the Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, Lib-Dem Women Spokesperson The Rt Hon. Liz Saville Roberts MP, Labour’s Dame Meg Hillier MP, Women’s Health All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair Jackie Doyle-Price MP and the Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley MP. You can follow his campaign so far here.
The support comes as the Government commits to ‘work to criminalise virginity testing’ through their recently published strategy on tackling violence against women and girls.
Richard Holden said: “Women and girls deserve to grow up free from notions of ‘breaking their womanhood’ so they ‘bleed on their wedding night’. These traumatic practices have no basis in medical science, harm women and girls and perpetuate dangerous myths of ‘purity’.
“My New Clauses to the Health and Care Bill seeking to criminalise so-called ‘virginity testing’ and hymen ‘repair’ surgery are MPs best chance to end this violence against women.
“I am delighted that MPs from all parties have backed my new clauses. I call on the Government to finally end these terrible practices for good”.
Women’s rights organisations Karma Nirvana, IKWRO and the Middle Eastern Women and Society Organisation (MEWSo), whom Richard thanked in the chamber for their work with him, commented
Diana Nammi, Executive Director of IKWRO - Women's Rights Organisation said:
“At IKWRO - Women's Rights Organisation, we support women and girls, whose lives have been put at risk of so-called "honour" killing because of virginity testing and who have been severely traumatised and harmed by hymenoplasty. That's why we are working closely with Mr Richard Holden MP to ensure that these invasive and degrading harmful practices, which are an abuse of human rights, and have no medical or other justification, are banned without delay. We have learned from our experiences in tackling the harmful practices of female genital mutilation and forced marriage, how vital it is to have clear legislation as a deterrent.
“We welcome the Home Secretary's commitment in the new Violence Against Women and Girls strategy to ban virginity testing. However, we urge the government to simultaneously ban hymenoplasty. Failure to do so will undermine the ban of virginity testing, as hymenoplasty is often used as a backdoor to virginity testing as it often takes place as part of the clinic's consultation for the procedure. At IKWRO, we've seen cases of women and girls who have been pressured, against their will into having hymenoplasty, which can cause multiple physical and psychological harms, including triggering "honour" based abuse.”
Halaleh Taheri Founder & Executive Director MEWSo said:
“After a 2 year-long campaign we welcome these new clauses to ban virginity tests and hymenoplasty. These abusive practices should have been stopped long ago. Now it is the responsibility of the community leaders and the Government to reshape misguided attitudes about women's virginity and sexual control”
Natasha Rattu, Executive Director of Karma Nirvana said:
“We believe that every woman deserves the right to make any decision about her body – free from shame, stigma or discrimination, without pressure to subscribe to ‘gender-based societal norms’, and without fear of harm. This is why we are working in partnership with Dr Charlotte Proudman, Richard Holden MP and the Department for Health and Social Care to bring forward new legislation to end virginity testing and hymenoplasty to help break the ‘virginity myth’.”
To hear more about the work that Richard is doing for North West Durham, you can sign up here.