UNDP

Gender Equality

Female employees and candidates of employment subjected to virginity tests

 

“Virginity testing” is a degrading and discriminatory, unscientific practice which violates several human rights of women, including the right to privacy and physical integrity, and the right to be protected from discrimination based on sex.

 

Virginity testing is invasive and degrading to women. There is a consensus among the world medical community that the practice holds no scientific validity.

 

Virginity testing is a form of gender-based violence. It compromises the dignity of women and violates their mental integrity. It has severe physical, psychological and social consequences to the women that are subjected to it. In some cases, virginity tests may result in physical harm to the woman being examined. There may also be a risk of domestic violence against a woman who returns home with a “failed” test result. Virginity tests can also lead to self-harm and attempted suicide among women. Some women may even harm themselves in an effort to try to “pass” a virginity test. This can lead to local trauma, bleeding and infection.

 

Employers must ensure virginity testing is eradicated from their employment practice. With regard to claims that it is justified on character grounds, employers should consider alternative methods which could be used to verify the good character of an applicant, without infringing on the woman’s physical and psychological integrity.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979, Article 7
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984, Article 16
ILO Violence and Harassment Convention 2019 (No. 190)

SDG 5

GENDER EQUALITY

SDG 5.1

Businesses that eradicate virginity tests from their workplace practices contribute to achieving SDG 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.

SDG 10

REDUCED INEQUALITIES

SDG 10.3

Businesses that establish policies banning virginity tests assist in achieving SDG 10.3: Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.

SDG 16

PEACE, JUSTICE AND STRONG INSTITUTIONS

SDG 16.B

Businesses that stand against the practice of virginity testing contribute to achieving SDG 16.B: Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.