Posted on June 25, 2008

Tax Money Buys New Virginity

Copenhagen Post, June 23, 2008

Women from certain immigrant groups are availing of reconstructive surgery to restore their hymen, due to cultural requirements that girls be able to prove their virginity on their wedding nights. Some municipalities go so far as to pay for a hymen reconstruction if they feel the woman’s life might be in danger.

The practice differs by municipality and is dealt with on a case-by-case basis on the recommendation of a doctor. Two years ago, women in Århus could have the procedure carried out at the city’s Skejby hospital. The gynaecological department there will no longer carry out the procedure, but other national health service hospitals, including Rigshsospitalet and Odense Universitetshospital, have performed the operation, according to TV2 news.

Another hospital refusing to carry out the procedure is Hvidovre Hospital.

‘It puzzles me that this can be done. The National Board of Health advises that cosmetic surgery on women’s genitalia is punishable by law. That to me would make it questionable as to whether rebuilding someone’s virginity is legal,’ Peter Hornnes, a gynaecologist at Hvidovre Hospital, told TV2 News.

Gynaecologist Christina Felding told public broadcaster DR that her private clinic has carried out the reconstructive surgery on numerous occasions. The bill for the procedure, which can run up to 4500 kroner, gets sent to the local council.

However, there are some who think that taxpayer money should not fund a practice that perpetuates the belief that women should remain virgins until they marry.

‘Society actually sanctions the symbolic value of the virginity and indirectly says to girls: “Yes, that’s right, you’re lacking in something so we’ll pay for it.” This does the girls a disservice,’ said Christina Aamand, author of the book ‘Mødom på mode’ (Virginity in Fashion).