California bill would penalize doctors for performing virginity tests on women

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Friday, January 10, 2020
California bill would end virginity tests on women
A lawmaker wants to end so-called virginity testing on women in California and penalize doctors who perform the controversial pelvic exam.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A California lawmaker wants to end so-called virginity testing on women after rapper T.I.'s controversial claim that he takes his daughter to a gynecologist every year to verify she's still a virgin.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, introduced legislation Wednesday to prohibit licensed medical practitioners from performing the controversial examination.

"So-called 'virginity testing' is a form of violence and harassment against young girls and women," Gonzalez said. "There is no medical reason for this examination.

Under Assembly Bill 1909, any medical practitioner who performs or supervises these pelvic exams on a woman's hymen would be subject to professional misconduct penalties.

A similar law was proposed in New York in 2019.

"It's time for California to listen to calls from the international community and ban this traumatizing, sexist and unnecessary practice," Gonzalez said.

The World Health Organization, U.N. Women and the U.N. Human Rights office called for the end of the tests worldwide in 2018.

T.I., also known as Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., drew criticism when he said in a November episode of the podcast "Ladies like Us" that he asked a gynecologist to check his teenage daughter's hymen shortly after her birthday each year. She is now 18.

After his comments prompted backlash on social media, he told Jada Pinkett Smith on the Facebook interview show Red Table Talk he'd been exaggerating and that "he was never in any exam room."

Experts say such testing is painful and that there's no evidence such testing shows whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse.

"There is no test that can tell you whether someone had intercourse, whether consensually or non-consensually," Ranit Mishori, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.