ON her wedding night, Aisha Salim will hand her blooded sheets to her in-laws as proof of her virginity.
But there’s one problem. Being a modern English university graduate, she is far from the traditional untouched Muslim bride.
Like most woman her age, Aisha has smoked, drank, had sex and even lived with one of her past boyfriends.
However, if the devout Muslim family of her soon-to-be husband—or even her own family—knew this, she could be killed.
Aisha has therefore opted to have her virginity surgically restored in a delicate but painful surgery called hymenoplasties—where the hymen is re-created from the already torn tissue, or a new membrane is inserted.
“If my husband cannot prove to his family that I am a virgin, I would be hounded, ostracised and sent home in disgrace,” Aisha told England’s Daily Mail.
“My father, who is a devout Muslim, would regard it as the ultimate shame. The entire family could be cast out from the friends and society they hold dear, and I honestly believe that one of my fanatically religious cousins or uncles might kill me in revenge, to purge them of my sins. Incredible as it may seem, honour killings are still accepted within our religion.
“Ever since my family arranged this marriage for me, I’ve been terrified that, on my wedding night, my secret would come out. It has only been since my surgery last week that I’ve actually been able to sleep properly. Now, I can look forward to my marriage.”
Aisha is far from alone in seeking such drastic—and almost barbaric—surgery.
The rise in Islamic fundamentalism has seen twenty-four women in the UK have the procedure between 2005 and 2006.
“I’ve always adored my parents,” Aisha says.
“My father, now 62, is a retired accountant and my mother raised a family of seven sisters in a five-bedroom house in Birmingham.
“I attended the local Catholic secondary school and although I wore a scarf on my head, I refused to wear a veil, telling my parents that it would make me stand out too much.
“I was one of the girls, totally accepted by my white, English friends whose lives revolved around shopping and fancying boys.
“But the moment I stepped over the doorstep, normal teenage life would cease and it was like entering an entirely different world. At home, we had to pray together five times a day.
“We weren’t allowed to watch television. My parents were so worried that Western influences might take our minds off the most important things—education and religion—that we were never allowed to bring any schoolfriends home.
“But it made all the things my friends did more attractive to me. I would sneak out on Saturday afternoons and join them in town, hanging around, shopping and chatting to boys.”