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Table 2 Summary of included studies reporting on impact on examinee

From: Virginity testing: a systematic review

Author, Year Study design and population Results Quality of evidence
Leclerc-Madlala S 2003 [4] Focus group interview in Durban, South Africa (n = 14)
Examiner(s): elderly women
Age of examinees: 13–18 years
Study group: girls planning to attend upcoming virginity testing event
Girls reported fear that being “certified” a virgin would result in brothers, friends, or neighbors raping them
Those who fail virginity tests are often expected to pay a fine for tainting the community and are excluded from certain employment
Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N 2005 [6] Interviews and focus groups in Jordan and Palestine (n = 41)
Examiner(s): forensic medical doctors
Age of Examinees: 21 years and younger
Study group: 7 sexually assaulted women who had virginity testing, 17 police officers, 2 physicians, 7 prosecutors, 4 social workers, and 4 lawyers
5 of 7 interviewees described the harsh trauma and aftermath of the initial sexual assault and virginity exam afterward
Focus group meetings showed women were extremely fearful and felt terrorized by virginity testing
Robatjazi et al. 2015 [14] In-depth semi-structured interviews in Iran (n = 15)
Examiner(s): physicians and midwives
Age of Examinees: not specified
Study group: 11 physicians and 4 midwives who performed virginity tests
10 out of 11 physicians reported that virginity testing leads to psychological distress
Most participants defined the following consequences of virginity testing: rejection, suicide, depression, weakened self-confidence, run-outs, divorce, and increased risk of diversion and abuse of girls
Frank et al. 1999 [30] Survey at one center in Turkey (n = 118)
Examiner: forensic physicians
Age of examinees: not specified
Study group: forensic physicians
93% responded that virginity tests are psychologically traumatic for the patient, 64% believed they were a violation of privacy, and 60% believed they result in loss of examinee’s self-esteem III
Human Rights Watch 2010 [32] Interviews in Delhi and Mumbai, India (n = 44)
Examiner(s): gynecologists and forensic doctors
Age of examinees: not specified
Study group: direct contacts with virginity testing examinees including doctors, health rights activists, prosecutors, lawyers, and parents
The report documented the fear and re-traumatization of virginity testing on a rape victim
Doctors were reported to have harmed the examinee during the test by aggravating existing injuries
Human Rights Watch 2001 [33] Interviews at eight public schools in three provinces of South Africa (n = 36)
Examiner(s): Teachers and older women
Age of examinees: 7–17 years
Study group: girls who reported sexual violence at school, as well as teachers and counselors
Reported on the fear that a failed test will increase risk of abuse and discrimination
In one case, a girl's relatives broke both her arms after she failed a virginity test
Gursoy E, Vural G 2003 [34] Survey in eight hospitals in Ankara, Turkey (n = 101)
Examiner(s): nurses and midwives
Age of examinees: not specified
Study group: nurses and midwives
90% opposed and 10% supported virginity testing
62% agreed that a forced virginity exam might result in severe negative effects such as anxiety, depression, isolation from society, a dysfunctional sex life, guilt, worsened self-respect, and fear of death
Leclerc-Madlala S. 2001 [35] Observation, interviews, and focus groups in Durban, South Africa
(sample size not specified)
Examiner(s): elderly female relatives
Age of examinees: 5–22 years
Study group: key informants in virginity testing movement
Those who failed a virginity test were subject to name-calling and social exclusion
Certified non-virgins were socially excluded, reporting that they will “spoil the bunch” and “cause the flowers of the nation to wilt”