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Turkish Girls Attempt Suicides to Avoid Virginity Tests

Human rights groups are outraged by the recent attempted suicides of five girls who wanted to avoid virginity tests in Turkey. The five girls, ages 12-16, chose to take rat poison and jump into a vat of water rather than face forced virginity tests. The girls survived and the tests were performed in the hospital.

Virginity tests, a centuries-old tradition in Turkey, are performed to measure a woman’s purity and loyalty to her family. Suicides are also commonplace, since the virginity test is often times inaccurate. Dilek Cindoglu, a sociologist who has studied the tests, said that “patriarchal control over women’s bodies has been reproduced through honor and shame codes.”

Recent controversy over the virginity tests arose when Isilay Saygin, state minister in charge of female and family affairs, supported government examinations of girls in state-run foster homes, stating the tests were needed to guide young women’s behavior. Human Rights Watch recently reported that the government was conducting virginity tests being run on hospital patients and prisoners.

Media Resources: Washington Post - January 27, 1998



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