UN News


A group of United Nations agencies has issued a joint statement calling for a ban on tests meant to assess the virginity of any female.

The statement, issued during the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Brazil, stressed that such tests are both unscientific, and a violation of human rights. The UN agencies are: the UN Human Rights Office, UN Women and the World Health Organisation.

The group said, “so-called virginity testing also often referred to as hymen, two-fingers or per vaginal examination is a gynaecological inspection of female genitalia carried out in the false belief that it can reliably determine whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse’.

In a global call to eliminate violence against women and girls everywhere, the UN agencies said that “this medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice, must end.”

The practice is a long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, and spanning all regions of the world. Women and girls are often forced to undergo virginity testing for various reasons, including requests from parents or potential partners to establish marriage eligibility or even from potential employers.

It is mostly performed by doctors, police officers, or community leaders on women and girls, in order to assess their virtue, honour or social value. In their statement, the UN agencies explained that the practice has “no scientific or clinical basis” and that “there is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex.”



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UN Secretary-General António Guterres says the UN will not be associated with the vile and vicious crimes of rape, sexual violence, exploitation and abuse in any way.

Guterres stated this in the Secretary-General’s report, ‘Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A new approach’, outlined a victim-centred strategy that is rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice.

The Secretary-General’s report particularly focused on preventing and responding to such abuses committed by those serving under the UN flag, like the peacekeeping personnel.
“Such acts of cruelty should never take place. Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes.
“Let us declare in one voice: We will not tolerate anyone committing or condoning sexual exploitation and abuse. We will not let anyone cover up these crimes with the UN flag,” he said.

Guterres said that promoting gender equality throughout the UN system, including its missions and peacekeeping forces, would help advance parity and at the same time decrease incidents of abuse.

“Let us do so in the name of all who look to the UN for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of UN personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals,” he stressed.

He noted that exploitation is also deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination.

The report focused is based on four tracks, including the rights and dignity of victims;and ending impunity for those guilty of crimes and abuses.

Others are drawing on the wisdom and guidance of all those who have been affected, civil society, local communities and others to strengthen and improve UN’s efforts; and to raise awareness and share best practices to end the vicious scourge.

The report also emphasised the need to engage with UN member states and called for a high-level meeting on sexual exploitation and abuses in 2017 on the margins of the general debate of the 72nd session of the General Assembly.

The report further noted that the UN chief would seek member states’ support to establish a system-wide consolidated confidential repository of case information to be placed under the supervision of the Special Coordinator on Improving UN Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.