In a culture in which lacking your virginity can be deadly, a market has sprung up for fake hymens which will convince a man that his bride was a virgin on their wedding night. The product is being snapped up by Muslim girls worldwide, though the manufacturer’s main client base is Muslim women living in Europe, a number on the rise.
The German company, called VirginiaCare, offers a medically tested “artificial hymen” which will “bleed” when broken, proving to a man – and his relatives – that his new wife is indeed the virgin she claimed to be before the wedding.
VirginiaCare’s website asks, “No longer a virgin? Is it unfortunately being asked of you?” It goes on to promise, “With an artificial hymen from VirginiaCare, you will certainly be able to show the bloodstains on your wedding night!”
The “hymen” is designed to fix itself in place inside a woman’s body. It contains two cellulose skins injected with a sterile, freeze-dried blood powder made from bovine blood. When the membrane is pierced, the fake blood is released. The hymen then dissolves completely inside the body.
Two blood colors are available: cherry red, for the husband’s immediate edification on the wedding night, and red-brown, for relatives who inspect the sheets the next day. The VirginiaCare company even gives advice to women on how to act in order to fully convince their husbands that they are virgins.
VirginiaCare presents its artificial hymen as an alternative to an expensive surgical hymen reconstruction procedure, which can cost up to 4,000 euros. The fake hymens are far more affordable at 50 euros.
Many Muslim women are forced to take these measures so as to avoid public shaming, social exclusion and even death by way of “honor killings” if they are found not to be virgins when they wed. In the movie “Honor Diaries”, produced by the Clarion Project, the phenomenon is explored in depth in an attempt to “break the silence” on honor violence against women and girls who are subject to systematic abuse within Muslim-majority societies.
Within many conservative Muslim cultures, it is considered righteous and even incumbent upon men to kill female relatives who have “shamed” them. Offenses include refusing to enter an arranged marriage, having a relationship of which the family disapproves, having sex outside of marriage, and even being a victim of rape.
Though some might find the idea of an artificial hymen grotesque, there is no doubt that the product is indeed saving lives of Muslim women, considering the dangers of being discovered to have had sex previous to marriage. One woman wrote in a testimonial, “If your product did not exist, I would not now exist either.”