Afghan women and girls accused of "moral crimes" are often forced to undergo invasive and unscientific "virginity tests" by government doctors, according to a study published by NGO Human Rights Watch. The tests, which include invasive genital and anal exams, are carried out in the presence of male guards and others, often amounting to torture with "horrible effects and consequences", the report found.
Scientists have discredited the validity of these physical examinations, which claim to verify whether a woman has been sexually active outside of marriage, Reuters reported. Among those made to undergo the test are girls as young as 13, as well as a number of women merely accused of leaving their homes without permission, which is not a crime under Afghan law. More than a third of them reported being examined more than once.
The Independent Human Rights Commission interviewed 53 women and girls from across Afghanistan last year, 48 of whom said they had to endure compulsory gynaecological exams by government officials. "Since the gynaecological tests are conducted without the victim’s consent, they can be considered sexual harassment and human rights violation," the commission said, adding that in some cases, women who were unable to prove they were virgins on their wedding day faced violence, and some were even killed.