Egyptian lawmaker says women should prove they are virgins to go to college

JERUSALEM – He’s at it again.

Last month, Egyptian lawmaker Elhamy Agina declared that women should undergo female genital mutilation in order to “reduce their s.e.xual desires” because Egyptian men are “s.e.xually weak.”

Now, he wants all Egyptian women to undergo compulsory “virginity tests” prior to being admitted into the country’s universities.

“Any girl who enters university, we have to check her medical examination to prove that she is a Miss,” Agina told Egypt’s Youm 7 newspapers, according to a translation in the Egyptian Streets news website. “Therefore, each girl must present an official document upon being admitted to university stating she’s a Miss.”

“No one should be upset by this decision,” he added.

Agina’s use of “Miss” was widely interpreted by Egyptians on social media as referring to a woman who is a virgin. And they took to Twitter and Facebook to ridicule Agina and call for punitive measures against him.

Agina, who is a member of the Egyptian parliament’s human rights committee, told Youm 7 that the virginity tests would help reduce the number of “Urfi marriages” in the country.

Also known as “customary marriages,” the unions are officiated by a cleric but are not officially registered and require only two witnesses – unlike traditional Egyptian marriages that require the blessings of both families. Often held in secret, the Urfi unions have become increasingly popular among young Egyptians who want to avoid high wedding costs, family and cultural pressures.

In conservative Egyptian society, s.e.x is forbidden before marriage, so Urfi marriages are seen as a way to try to avoid stigma. But increasingly the practice has been criticized by conservative clerics and officials as a cover for pre-marital s.e.x.

He added that if a woman “fails” the virginity test, her parents would be notified immediately. He hopes that will deter couples from entering into a clandestine union.

In his interview with Youm 7, Agina urged lawmakers, media and university officials to support his call for virginity tests. He also demanded that Egypt’s Higher Education Ministry put him, or officials sympathizing with him, in charge of reviewing all virginity tests before issuing female students with university identification cards.

It wasn’t Agina’s only controversial statement this week.

He publicly declared that the victims of a boat carrying migrants to Italy that capsized off Egypt’s coast last week “deserve no sympathy” because they were illegally migrating to pursue “an unguaranteed fantasy,” according to Egyptian Streets. More than 200 people, including many children, youths and women, were killed on the boat.

After his remarks on female genital mutilation, Agina was referred to a parliament’s ethics committee, but has not been disciplined further.


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