Muslim Plastic Surgery
The operation takes only 30 minutes, with a local anesthetic, said Elaine Sciolino and Souad Mekhennet in The New York Times, but for some women it can literally mean the difference between life and death. Gynecologists in France, Britain, and other Western European nations are reporting a surge in the number of Muslim women requesting “revirgination”—a simple plastic-surgery procedure to restore the hymen, the membrane that usually tears the first time a woman has intercourse. For young Muslim women growing up in more permissive Western societies, premarital sex is no longer unthinkable, said Stacy Meichtry in The Wall Street Journal. Yet when it’s time to marry, and they return to their more traditional roots, they find that “virginity is a prerequisite.” A woman who doesn’t bleed on her wedding night can easily find herself divorced, beaten, or even killed by shamed family members. Some Western doctors, though, are troubled by the ethics of hymenoplasty. By helping women deceive their husbands in this way, is the medical profession not helping to perpetuate this barbaric form of “gender bias”?
Perhaps so, said Lisa Schiffren in National Review Online, but what’s the alternative? For young women raised amid traditional Islamic attitudes, a marriage founded on lies, surgery, and ancient irrational prejudices is the best they can hope for. If the alternative to hymenoplasty is “shame and unwanted singleness,” then it’s hard to fault women for choosing the operation—or doctors for providing it. As one well-educated young woman about to get the surgery said: “In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt.” As a result of that attitude, some of the doctors performing hymenoplasty even claim that they’re “empowering” their patients, said Abe Greenwald in Commentary.com. “Performing surgery on someone’s genitals” to spare them the wrath of murderous in-laws, however, strikes me as an odd way of giving women power.
By undermining the very concept of virginity, said William Saletan in Slate.com, this surgery does indeed empower women. Think about it. If restoring hymens becomes “safe, cheap, convincing, and confidential,” it will be impossible—or at least a lot harder—for Muslim husbands and their families to ascertain whether a woman has had sex in the past. So why keep demanding proof, when hymens prove nothing? Tricking one’s husband may not be ethical, but neither is a husband insisting that his wife bleed on her wedding night. Two wrongs may not make a right. But in this case, clearly, “they’re better than one.”
Labels: Infidel Citizen Warrior