Najlaa Abou Mehri and Linda Sills report on the booming business of creating virgins, for the BBC:
Young Arab women wait in an upmarket medical clinic for an operation that will not only change their lives, but quite possibly save it. Yet the operation is a matter of choice and not necessity. It costs about 2,000 euros (£1,700) and carries very little risk.
The clinic is not in Dubai or Cairo, but in Paris. And the surgery they are waiting for is to restore their virginity.
Whether in Asia or the Arab world, an unknown number of women face an agonising problem having broken a deep taboo. They’ve had sex outside marriage and if found out, risk being ostracised by their communities, or even murdered.
Now more and more of them are undergoing surgery to re-connect their hymens and hide any sign of past sexual activity. They want to ensure that blood is spilled on their wedding night sheets.
The social pressure is so great that some women have even taken their own lives. Sonia wants to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. She is a slender young brunette studying at art college in Paris. Although born in France, Arab culture and traditions are central to Sonia’s life. Life was strict growing up under the watchful eyes of a large traditional Arab family.
“I thought of suicide after my first sexual relationship,” she says, “because I couldn’t see any other solution.” But Sonia did find a solution.
She eventually went to the Paris clinic of Dr Marc Abecassis to have surgery to restore her hymen. She says she will never reveal her secret to anyone, especially her husband to be…
[continues at the BBC]