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
 Nov 24 2015 - China home-price recovery slows in OctoberGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) China's home-price recovery slowed in October, as a supply glut in less-prosperous cities challenges the authorities' efforts to revive the residential market with interest-rate ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Devaluation may force China to pay premium on Dim Sum debtGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) China is set to pay more to sell sovereign bonds in Hong Kong than in the onshore market for the first time, as investors brace for the possibility of another yuan ...

 Nov 24 2015 - PetroChina, CNPC plan pipeline, refinery salesGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) PetroChina Co and its state-owned parent are planning to sell assets before the end of the year that may include stakes in pipelines and refineries as the country's biggest oil ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Saudi Arabia ready to work with others to stabilise crude marketGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Saudi Arabia's cabinet said yesterday it was ready to cooperate with Opec and non-Opec countries to achieve market stability, days before Opec meets to review its year-long ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Issa Abu Issa on TAKREEM 2015 juryGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Prominent Qatari entrepreneur and Salam International chairman and CEO, Issa Abdul Salam Abu Issa was on the eminent panel of jury of 'TAKREEM 2015.' Established in 2010, ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Joyalukkas raises AED500mn to 'refinance and reduce borrowing costs'Gulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf TimesDubai-headquartered leading jewellery retail chain Joyalukkas has raised a total amount of AED500mn through multiple banking arrangements. Part of this is a $80mn term loan with a ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Qatar Airways named the Best Mideast Airline serving ChinaGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Qatar Airways has been named the Best Middle East Airline serving China, at the 2015 Business Traveller China Awards, picking up the award for the fourth consecutive year."To be ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Qatar banks' loan-deposit ratio hits 115% in October QCB targets 100%Gulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Qatar's banking sector witnessed loan-deposit ratio increase to 115% in October against 112% in the previous month; even as the Qatar Central Bank is aiming to limit the ratio ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Qatar brokers reconciliation deal between Libyan tribesGulf Times
(MENAFN - Gulf Times) The Libyan tribes of the Tuareg and Tebu yesterday signed a comprehensive reconciliation agreement under the auspices of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to put an ...

 Nov 24 2015 - Suicide vest found on Paris street: Did Belgian suspect Abdeslam get cold feetAsia Times
(MENAFN - Asia Times) Salah Abdeslam In Washington the US State Departmentissued a global alert on Monday for Americans planning to travel following the deadly militant attacks in France and ...




Click to Apply


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

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

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