Enter Paris. Young attractive Muslim women are waiting at an upscale clinic for an operation that could change the course of their lives. Better yet, it’s an operation that could save their lives. Yet despite the apprehension, this operation is a choice and not a necessity. Its low-risk procedure for about 2,000 Euros ($1,700).
Its Hymenoplasty. It’s the surgical re-attachment of hymen and it’s an operation that restores virginity. It allows broken women to walk back into societies with honor.
An uncountable number of women today face agony over a simple problem. Virginity. They’ve had sex outside the bounds of marriage and they risk being rejected by their communities. An alarming number of women also risk their lives over this perceived honor.
Soiling the wedding sheets with blood can change the future of a bride. In many cases it can be the difference between a bride and a corpse. Sometimes, social pressure can even result in suicide. Many women have lost their lives to this ordeal. Communities cannot see them beyond their virginity.
Meet Sonia, a young slender brunette studying art in France. Born and bred in France, she has soaked in the Mediterranean sun, the medieval cities and the rich alpine villages. Yet her life is still dictated by her Arab roots. Arab culture and acceptability in her very large Arab family still define her life.
But Sonia has slept with her past lovers and that’s where she digressed from Arab culture. The only solution she saw after the intercourse was suicide because she was at a risk of being disrespected and cast out of her family.
Lucky for her, she discovered Dr. Mark Abecassis. One of the few Arab surgeons who openly address the taboo surrounding virginity in the Arab world and greater Asia. He says that the average age of his patients is 25 years and they come in from different socio-economic backgrounds. These are scared women, often rushed by their parents in order to avoid public humiliation and dishonor in the community. Dr. Abecassis performs a simple surgery under local anesthesia reconnecting the membrane.
Sonia got her surgery and now protects this secret as she believes that the men in her community are the ones who will never not allow her to come clean about it. Not even her husband will be privy to this piece of information as she believes her sex life is private and she shouldn’t have to justify it to any other person.
Dr. Abecassis performs these surgeries on a couple of patients every week and he believes that he has no right to judge these women who flock to him to save their lives. He says it’s a matter of tradition and family and often endangers the lives of these women. Doctors cannot decide the fate of their patients and hence should reserve all judgement.
Some non-surgical options are also in the market with the Chinese manufacturers leading the way, there are now non-surgical options on the market as well. One such website sells artificial hymens for just $20 (23 euros). The Chinese hymen is made of elastic and filled with fake blood. Once inserted in the vagina, the woman can simulate virginity, the company claims.
But is it really that simple? Brides having undergone the surgery do risk being caught out. Nada was scared at her wedding night that her husband might suspect being lied to. She couldn’t sleep all night and stayed up crying. Fortunately for her, he didn’t suspect otherwise.
Having fallen in the throes of love, she too had consummated her relationship in the lush Lebanese countryside. Seven years into the relationship, her lover’s family wanted him to marry someone else. Nada drank a cocktail of household chemicals and Panadol to take her life. She believed that was it for her.
But it was not meant to be. Lucky for her, she discovered hymenoplasty surgery in Lebanon, went on to marry and has had two children since from her marriage. Her secret is safe with God. She will carry it to her grave.
Many would consider by this point that this is a generational problem, but it is not.
Meet Noor, he is a trendy professional working in Damascus. Noor subscribes to the Syrian secular society and is often caught chanting women empowerment slogans. But underneath that façade of liberal equalities is the dark face of deep-rooted conservatism. He knows girls who have undergone restoration and were caught by their husbands who realized their brides weren’t virgins. He says that even if society were to accept such women, he wouldn’t marry such a woman.
Religion and Virginity:
Muslim clerics are quick to separate themselves from the controversy stirred by the longstanding tradition of spotting blood on wedding sheets. Sheikh Muhammad Habash, a Syrian cleric is quick to point out that these are purely cultural traditions with no links to Shariah Law. In fact, Christian communities in the Middle East are just as firm in their beliefs that women should testify their virginities when the question of marriage arises.
Sana Al Khayat, an Arab social commentator and writer believes that the real issue is not with religion or culture but control. Rather the notion of control.
Experience with other men before the institution of marriage can make a woman stronger. It can shift control in the marriage.
Hymen reconstruction may be a quick procedure, but it cannot reconcile centuries of ingrained tradition within the attitudes of modern society.
Islam and Hymenoplasty:
Recently, surgeries in hymenoplasty have seen a spike in women of Muslim origins residing in France, Germany, Canada and United States.
Some practitioners such as Jacques Lansac quoted by the New York Times in an article titled “In Europe, Debate over Islam and Virginity” believe that surgeries of this category have no place in French society where human rights and equality of women is celebrated.
But hymenoplasty is nothing new, as noted by newspapers over the years.
In the United States, for example, it is an exotic gift given by some women in a bid to woo their lovers on Valentine’s Day. Arguably, a frivolous procedure one may agree but the heart wants what it wants indeed. It may make female progressive thinkers and feminists’ shudder at the thought, but some women consider it a gift of love.
Hymenoplasty becomes a much gloomier subject when the recent increase in the number of honor killings is considered. As Western countries increasingly host emigrating Muslims, the rise in honor killings is imminent especially in France, Canada, and the United States. Family members continue executing brides-to-be who cannot produce adequate evidence of virginity to retain honor of the family.
Therefore, most women resort to what is required to save their lives.
But an increasing number of people in France believes that surgeons overstep the bounds of their profession and end up supporting these longstanding beliefs by accommodating such surgeries. They end up fueling the underlying hypocrisy as Ni Putes Ni Soumises, a spokesperson for a Paris based Muslim women rights group notes.
Hymenoplasty in Saudi Arabia is also on the rise as women struggle to keep intact their respect in the community for fear of death. As more and more single women in the country become acquainted with modern lifestyle, they struggle to keep their sex lives secret.
Hymenoplasty in the UAE is also becoming rampant in states like Dubai, as more and more women try to reconcile the luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene with traditional Middle Eastern values. Rife with water parks and night life, the backdrop of the lush state is set against the stringent traditions of Arabia.
As more and more middle eastern origin families arrive in the states, they bring with them beliefs which may seem alien to modern societies. More and more surgeons will be approached for hymenoplasty surgeries by women of Middle East and Asian descent looking to hide their sexual transgressions with convenient lies. Surgeons will be put in a position to support these convenient lies. The procedure will become more and more controversial as it gains momentum.
Should surgeons be involved in misleading loved ones of patients and reinforcing a gender bias?
It may be difficult for surgeons to be straight about the ethical dilemmas in such cases. Surgeons must however be aware of the consequences on women approaching them for this surgery. Red flags may go up especially when women are brought under duress by their relatives. Awareness is important to rule out any dangers to the lives of these women.
However, care must be taken as in most cases, its either hymenoplasty or her life.
DIY Hymen Repair Kit: A simpler solution
Millions of women end up losing money in a bid to reclaim their lives by going for strenuous hymenoplasty surgeries. Yet there is a solution in the market which is easy on the pocket and is as simple as any DIY activity.
If you’ve recently (or not so recently) misplaced your hymen, accidentally damaged it, given it a bit of a tear – then boy, oh, boy, have we got the product just for you.
This fabulous Artificial Hymen Repair Kit can give you back that little scrap of membrane that you miss so dearly. And no, we’re not joking because you can’t make up stuff this perverse.
In short, it’s a delicate sachet of fake blood that you insert into your vagina like a diaphragm and which dissolves or ‘tears’ during intercourse. Ah. Now wasn’t that easy?
Our intent is to help women make a choice that allows them to leave their past behind. Our purpose is to make that choice an easy one. It’s a market still away from common eye and is progressing to allow you to lead the way to your future.