Feature

Reclaiming virginity

Muslim women in Europe who have had premarital sex are increasingly resorting to surgery to restore the appearance of virginity, said Abe Greenwald in a Commentary blog, and the surgeons say this is

What happenedAn increasing number of Muslim women in Europe are having a hymenoplasty, a surgical restoration of the hymen, to give the illusion of virginity. For Muslim women who have had premarital sex, said Dr. Hicham Mouallem, “if you’re looking to marry a Muslim and don’t want to have problems, you’ll try to recapture your virginity.” The issue gained prominence in France after a court annulled a marriage between two Muslims because the bride had lied about being a virgin. (The New York Times)

What the commentators saidSomething is terribly wrong here, said Abe Greenwald in Commentary’s Contentions blog. Doctors quoted in the Times story said the surgery empowered patients by helping them control their destinies and avoid abuse. “Performing surgery on someone’s genitals in order to avoid murder at the hands of a relative can be called a lot of things. But 'empowering'? Maybe something got lost in translation.”

French feminists are understandably outraged, said William Saletan in Slate. They say resorting to surgery to fool people merely reinforces gender bias. Fair enough. But until the “twisted culture of virginity hypocrisy” withers away, if women want artificial hymen restoration to deceive their husbands and parents, “let them have it.”

This “whole thing is a grotesque testament to many Muslims’ acquiescence to male tyranny and sexual dysfunction,” said Andrew Sullivan in his blog, The Daily Dish, at TheAtlantic.com. For anyone interested getting to “the roots of Islamist rage and nihilism in modernity,” the attitude that women are dirt if they aren’t virgins at marriage “is one place to start.”

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