The UK government is criminalizing hymen reconstruction procedures to protect vulnerable women and girls
UK Minister for Care and Mental Health Gillian Keegan has confirmed the government will ban the "indefensible" cosmetic surgeries that are linked to conservative cultures.
Hymen repair surgery, known as hymenoplasty, is currently available in UK clinics for up to Pound 3,000 ($4,055.79) and is catering to groups that value virginity before marriage.
The procedure is closely linked with virginity testing.The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that virginity testing is currently practiced in at least 20 countries, subjecting women to an intrusive examination of the hymen area.
The legislation, which is set to be introduced this year, will see parliament criminalize "aiding or abetting" a person carrying out hymenoplasty in the UK, as well as making it a crime to take a girl abroad for the procedure.
Those found guilty could face up to five years in prison.The UK government hopes that the new legislation will safeguard "vulnerable women and girls in this country."
"Hymenoplasty causes trauma and in around half of cases, it fails to make the woman or girl bleed the next time she has intercourse, leaving her highly vulnerable to 'honor'-based abuse or even 'honor' killing," Diana Nammi, executive director of the Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organization, said.
The Iranian & Kurdish Women's Rights Organization has campaigned for a ban on the surgical procedure, calling it an "invasive surgery" that is often carried out "under duress."