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Authorities in Turkmenistan are ordering female high school students in the country’s western province of Balkan to undergo mandatory virginity tests, saying the move is aimed at establishing the teenagers’ morality, Radio Free Europe reported.
Parents, educators and students said officials have demanded gynecological tests without the consent of the girls or their parents. Students who “fail” these tests are being reported to police and security services, they added.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers are reportedly checking the mobile phones of these girls to gather information about their suspected sexual partners.
While authorities have not offered a proper explanation for such tests, some observers speculated that it might be connected to the reported rise of teenage pregnancies in the coastal region in recent months.
Still, virginity tests are not unprecedented in the tightly controlled Central Asian nation.
In 2018, virginity tests were conducted in the northern Dashoguz region as part of efforts to combat teenage prostitution.
“Some of the girls were discovered to not be virgins during the tests, and their parents were summoned and shamed in front of everyone at the school,” a source close to the matter told RFE at the time.
A year later, female students in the southeastern Mary Province were subjected to gynecological examinations without parental consent.
Many women’s rights activists and medical professionals have condemned virginity tests, which continue to be enforced in some parts of the world.
Health experts said such tests cannot determine a person’s virginity because the hymen can be damaged outside of sexual activity.