Hymen Reconstruction: Ethical and Legal Issues

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 107, pp. 266-269, 2009

4 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2010

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 4, 2010

Abstract

A hymen may be ruptured by sexual intercourse and several other means. In cultures prizing unmarried women’s virginity, premarital rupture may shame a woman, and her family. Women, including brides whose virginity is not proven at marriage, face humiliation, ostracism, divorce and violence, at the extreme “honor” killing. Nevertheless, gynecologists may oppose hymen reconstruction on grounds that it is deceptive, not medically required, or that the requirement of evidence of virginity discriminates against women, and the procedure supports holding them to higher standards of virtue than are required of men. Gynecologists may justify the procedure, however, as serving health, which includes patients’ mental and social well-being and women’s human rights to control their own bodies. Further, many adolescents lose their virginity innocently, by rape or coercion, and, without hymen reconstruction, women may face violence and even death. The procedure is usually lawful, and distinguishable from female genital cutting or mutilation.

Keywords: cosmetic surgery, discrimination, genital surgery, honor killing, hymen reconstruction, revirgination, virginity

JEL Classification: I10, I18, K14, K19

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Dickens, Bernard, Hymen Reconstruction: Ethical and Legal Issues (January 4, 2010). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 107, pp. 266-269, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1531350

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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