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Denmark: Muslim women's virginity fix still causing controversy

From the Copenhagen Post

Three years after call for ban, doctors continue to profit by performing ‘virginity restoration’ procedure on young Danish women. Young Danish women with immigrant backgrounds – most of them Muslim – continue to flock to private clinics across the country to have their ‘virginity’ restored for a few thousand kroner.

Several years after the little-known procedure became a topic of political debate, doctors are reporting that demand for hymenoplasty operations has not decreased. Doctors who perform these operations have come under sharp criticism for legitimising the procedure and thereby protecting what critics say is the chauvinism and oppression that underlies the demand that new brides must be verified virgins.

“I don’t have any scruples about helping. The important thing is that these girls have good lives moving forward. You could call it my form of foreign aid,” Dr Christine Felding, who performs 30 to 40 hymenoplasty procedures each year, told Berlingske newspaper.

The procedure involves reconstructing the hymen – the membrane that partially covers the opening to the vagina, and which is presumed to tear and bleed the first time a woman has sexual intercourse. The doctor literally sews bits of the vaginal lining together to narrow the opening. It takes a little over an hour and is done under local anaesthesia. Felding charges 5,000 kroner. Other doctors charge as much as 12,000 kroner.

Felding estimates that three or four women with immigrant backgrounds call her each week asking about the procedure. Most of them, she said, are frightened about what will happen if their fiancés or their families find out that they are not virgins. Women have been known to suffer rejection, public shaming and even violent retribution at the hands of men in their own families if there is a lack of ‘proof’, in the form of a bloody bed sheet, on the wedding night.

Doctors in the UK, France, Germany and Belgium also report that the procedure is highly sought after in Muslim communities.

. . .nurse and social counsellor Kristina Aamand believes that by providing hymenoplasties, doctors are sheltering ignorance and helping a backwards tradition to persist in modern society. “The young women see [a hymenoplasty] as a little thing next to the anxiety they feel. They see it as something they just have to get through. But the fear of being discovered remains, and ten little stitches in the vagina won’t change that,”

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