Sweden to criminalize virginity tests

Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer
Photo: Ninni Andersson/Regeringskansliet

The Swedish Government is stepping up its efforts to combat honor-related violence and oppression, and has therefore commissioned an ongoing inquiry to draft proposals for legislation to criminalize virginity testing, virginity certification and hymen reconstruction surgery.

In both health care and private settings, some girls and women are subjected to virginity tests and issued virginity certificates. It has also come to light that there are clinics offering hymen reconstruction surgery, a genital surgical procedure that helps ensure bleeding during sexual intercourse.

There is no medical justification for this. It is an expression of honor-related violence and oppression, with the aim of controlling girls’ and women’s sexuality.

Since November 2021, the ongoing inquiry has been tasked with determining how protection against this type of inappropriate control of girls’ and women’s sexuality can be strengthened.

The government and the Sweden Democrats have agreed that virginity testing, virginity certification and hymen reconstruction surgery should be criminalized.

The government has therefore decided to task the inquiry, regardless of its position on the merits of the matter, with presenting proposals to criminalize these acts.

“Such tests of girls’ and women’s sexual activity are unacceptable. It is therefore essential that we are able to take action against people who conduct virginity tests, perform hymen reconstruction surgery or issue virginity certificates,” says Minister for Justice Gunnar Strömmer.

The time for the inquiry has been extended and it should submit its final report, together with other components, by 1 July 2023.

Judge of Appeal and Vice Chair Maria Hölcke remains the Inquiry Chair.

Swedish Government