NPR’s Michel Martin talks with Sophia Jones, senior editor for The Fuller Job, about the debate surrounding virginity screening.


We’re going to turn now to a story that made all sort of waves on social networks recently. And here is where I feel I ought to state we’re going to get into a level of information about anatomy that some might discover unpleasant.

The story is this. The rap artist and manufacturer T.I. stated in an interview with the host of the “Ladies Like United States” podcast that he has actually been taking his now 18- year-old child to her yearly go to with her gynecologist every year to verify that she’s not sexually active. How would he verify this? By firmly insisting that the medical professional identify whether her hymen is undamaged. It’s a practice referred to as virginity screening, and it’s a practice that has actually been commonly condemned by physician all over the world, consisting of the World Health Company, as unscientific, clinically worthless and even violent.

We wished to find out more about this, consisting of how extensive this practice stays, so we have actually called Sophia Jones. She’s a senior editor and reporter with the Fuller Job. That’s a not-for-profit reporter company reporting on worldwide problems impacting females. She’s composed commonly about this. And she’s with us now from Istanbul, Turkey.

Sophia Jones, thank you a lot for talking with us.

SOPHIA JONES: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: So, first off, how extensive is this practice?

JONES: So that’s an excellent concern, and many people do not actually understand. So I began reporting on this about a year back, when I was preparing a journey to Afghanistan, where – virginity screening is extensive there. And I began asking scientists and doctors in the United States if they had ever become aware of this occurring in the U.S. Therefore I began asking that concern – how typical is this? Have you become aware of this?

And it took a couple of months for individuals to actually begin to return to me and to speak about this. They stated that they were regularly asked to carry out hymen tests to identify virginity, which is not clinical, which they had actually sometimes in fact carried out the tests themselves or they had actually become aware of coworkers performing them.

MARTIN: And, simply to clarify for individuals who may not understand, just what is the hymen? What function does it serve? Does it serve any biological function that we understand?

JONES: The hymen is a slice of mucous membrane that can be discovered near the entryway of the vaginal area. It has no tested function whatsoever. Medical professionals and professionals actually do not understand why the hymen exists. Some child ladies are born without a hymen. Lots of are born with a hymen. However it is available in several sizes and shapes.

MARTIN: What in your reporting have you showed has been the effect of these sort of tests on females? I indicate, among the important things that you discussed is that there are a variety of females who have actually gone through these tests who have actually discovered it exceptionally distressing for many years later on. Could you simply talk a bit about what your reporting showed around this?

JONES: It was actually hard to get females to open and speak about this concern since it’s exceptionally personal. And of the females that I did interview, there was a handful that had actually undergone this treatment as kids, in their teenager years around the age of puberty. And all of them stated that they discovered it exceptionally traumatizing. And some stated that they considered it to be sexual attack or rape.

MARTIN: Among the important things that captivated me is the reality that a medical professional would take part in this when you have actually informed us that there is no medical function to it. I indicate, there is no medical function to it. So why would a medical professional perform this test on a healthy individual?

JONES: That’s an actually great concern, which’s a concern I have actually asked a number of lots doctors and nurses and sexual attack nurses. And they state – they have a range of various responses. Some simply do not wish to speak about the reality that they’re carrying out these tests since it may be due to lack of knowledge. Even in medical school, the hymen is not commonly studied, and even amongst medical professionals that I spoke with in the States, there was sort of an absence of comprehending around the hymen and the function that it plays or does not play in the female anatomy.

MARTIN: So prior to we let you go, I kept in mind that this story about T.I., who’s, you understand, a really popular figure – and I understand a great deal of individuals responded with type of scary and disgust when he was discussing this concern in this method – you understand, so easily on a public online forum. And I simply questioned, how did you respond to this as an individual who’s reported on this?

JONES: So I wasn’t absolutely shocked. I was simply shocked that about a week after I released this year-long examination about virginity screening, and it was so hard to discover females and physician to come forward and speak about this concern, that this story appeared in my news feed that T.I. was bringing his child to get her hymen inspected. And it sort of exploded the story in a much larger method and provided it a platform where individuals were in fact discussing this concern – where previously, prior to this examination, I had never check out a story about virginity screening in the U.S.

MARTIN: That was Sophia Jones, senior editor and reporter with the Fuller Job. It’s a job that reports on problems impacting females and ladies all over the world.

Sophia Jones, thank you a lot for talking with us today.

JONES: Thank you.

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