Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Thursday, January 7, 1999 Published at 02:44 GMT

World: Europe

Forced virginity tests banned

In rural areas virginity is a matter of family honour

By Ankara Correspondent Chris Morris

The Turkish Justice Minister has ordered officials to stop the controversial practice of forcing virginity tests on women and teenage girls.

The minister, Hasan Denizkurdu, said officials should not punish women in a way which, it says, could offend their feelings of shame or modesty.

The authorities will now only be able to force virginity tests on women with prior permission from a judge, if a test is required as evidence in a criminal case.

Testing has been quite common in the past, especially in conservative rural areas where virginity is seen as a matter of family honour rather than one of personal responsibility.

One focus of attention was state-run orphanages where a number of teenage girls committed suicide after being forcibly examined to see if their hymen was still intact.

The practice has created a growing chorus of complaints from groups campaigning for better women's rights. They will welcome the decree as an important step.

But they warn that implementation may be difficult and that a change in the law will not necessarily lead to a change in deeply-entrenched attitudes.

Even the Minister of Women's Affairs defended virginity testing last year as a part of cultural tradition, but she was forced to back-track after her remarks led to indignant calls for her resignation.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Internet Links

UNHCR: Women's Rights

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift