Guardian news: Afghan women still jailed alongside murderers for 'failing' virginity test

9 October, 2018

Extracts below. Full text here:


Afghan women still jailed alongside murderers for 'failing' virginity test

Despite a public health policy outlawing the test, women continue to be subjected to this degrading ordeal, which can lead to arrest and imprisonment

Seven months ago, 18-year-old Bahara was imprisoned for failing a test that she should never have had to undergo. Bahara had run away from home to meet a man she had been in a relationship with. They had never met, but were in contact through calls and messages. That night, when they met for the first time, he raped her. But when she reported the rape to the police, instead of support, she was taken to hospital to undergo a virginity test – a practice that was banned in Afghanistan in 2016...

Bahara is now an inmate at Mazar-i-Sharif high security prison in Balkh province. Many women have been imprisoned here for what are considered “moral crimes”, which include running away from home and having sex before marriage. Most will have had to undergo virginity tests and many women will spend months in jail because they failed them...

Following the announcement of the new policy, Marie Stopes, with funding from the Swedish government, will work with healthcare professionals in every Afghan province to ensure they know about the ban, and implement it.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: