Three United Nations (UN) agencies have called for an end to virginity testing globally.

The UN’s Human Rights, Women and World Health Organisation (WHO) say the practise is medically unnecessary, painful, humiliating and traumatic.

Virginity testing is a common practice in South Africa and about 20 other countries. It’s conducted to determine whether or not a woman or a girl has had vaginal intercourse.

The call to ban virginity testing has been made at the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.

The three organisations say the emphasis on women’s virginity is a form of gender discrimination as it aims to control their sexuality and bodies.

They say the examination of a woman’s private part is a violation of their human rights and in cases of rape can cause additional pain leading to more trauma and re-victimisation.

These agencies have called on governments, health professionals and communities to urgently eliminate this practice in their countries.  They also want laws banning virginity testing to be enforced and for communities to be educated about the myths related to this practise.

The Agencies say virginity testing has no scientific merit and cannot determine whether there’s been penetration or not.

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