A new study published by Human Rights Watch on Monday found that women and girls in Afghanistan accused of “moral crimes”, such as adultery or running away from home, are frequently forced to undergo unscientific virginity tests. Investigators for Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission interviewed 53 women in different Afghan provinces accused of such crimes and found that 48 of them had been subjected to the gynecological exams, which are often carried out in presence of male guards and others and amount to “torture” according to the report. “Since gynecological tests are conducted without consent of the victim, it can be considered sexual harassment and human rights violation,” the commission wrote. Tests were carried out on girls as young as 13, and often for “crimes” as inconsequential as leaving the house without permission. “The continued use of degrading and unscientific ‘virginity exams’ by the Afghan government is part of a broader pattern of abuses in which women and girls in Afghanistan are jailed on spurious ‘moral crimes’ accusations,” Human Rights Watch senior researcher Heather Barr concluded.
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