Surgery to restore rape survivor’s virginity

Below is an old article about girls, who’d survived rape by ISIS, having their virginity surgically “restored”. Girls were seeking this because they feared being shamed & ostracised for “losing” their virginity.

The problem is that that society equates virginity with an intact hymen. I’m worried that the church also equates virginity with an intact hymen.

The combination of valuing virginity & equating virginity with an intact hymen leads to girls (& virgins) being valued by their bodies rather than their moral integrity & human dignity.

It’s awful that these innocent girls, for suffering another’s crimes, have lost respect from their society.

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It’s awful, but it’s also cultural. I don’t think the modern Catholic church in the west gives two hoots about whether a hymen is intact. You can tear your hymen riding a horse or doing gymnastics.


Modern Catholic Dictionary:

VIRGINITY. The state of bodily integrity in either sex. This integrity may be physical or moral, and either factual or intentional. Physical virginity is sometimes defined as the absence of any sinfully experienced lustful sensation. But, strictly speaking, a person is physically a virgin unless he or she has had sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. Moral virginity means the absence of any willful consent to venereal pleasure; again, strictly speaking, with a person of the opposite sex. Virginity is factual when, de facto, a person has not in the past sought or indulged in sexual pleasure; it is intentional when a person intends never to experience such pleasure, according to the previous distinctions made. (Etym. Latin virgo , maiden, virgin.)

The Church doesn’t, so you can stop worrying.

It’s my understanding that victims of rape are still considered virgins by religious orders, based on past threads we’ve had asking the question, which were responded to by members of religious orders who post here.

Also, in the modern Church there’s a general understanding that hymens can break just from normal physical activities. I was never taught growing up that a husband would be physically checking to see if I were a virgin or looking for blood on the sheets or any of that.

I’m not sure where you got the idea that the Catholic Church is hymen-obsessed.


Every girl and woman has a hole in the hymen as the menstruation bloods needs to pass through it. The hymen is sort of like “scrunched up flesh in a ring”.

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Well for Muslims in the middle East I think physical virginity is more important and you could be shunned if you lost your virginity outside of marriage.


Er…your comment is true, but…
This article speak of Yazidi women.
Sorry, but Yazidi is not an islamic religion. it is an older one, whose origin come from ancient Iran.

And for the importance of virginity, I think many here take these issue lightly. Without pretending to be a specialist of this population, for Yezidis, when you lost your virginity, you are married, even if it was by rape. and “mixed” marriage are not allowed. (so you can be banned from the commmunity). Recently, with the genocide, the things tend to change, and girls and women who were former slaves are more reintegrated, but that may not be easy.

Of course, an operation, if possible, cannot undone a rape and go back in time. their virginity cannot be restore for true, and they will lived with their trauma. It is not really an answer.

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We’re not taking it lightly for the Yezidis.

The OP, in his post, is concerned that the Church, as in the Catholic Church, views women’s hymens as a proof of virginity.

The Catholic Church is NOT concerned with women’s hymens and does NOT determine virginity based on presence or absence of a hymen. Rather, the Catholic Church consideres a woman a virgin if she has not had any form of consensual sex.

Yes, it’s terrible and traumatic what happens to these Yazidi women, but the Catholic Church doesn’t condone it or believe like the Yazidis do. The OP seemed to think that the Church held similar beliefs.
So, we are not taking the subject “lightly” but we are simply pointing out that it is very odd that anyone in this day and age would think the Catholic Church held this outdated and barbaric view.

I hope this is clear.
I am also not sure what you would expect us to do about these poor women being subjected to this Yezidi practice other than say that we don’t agree with it.

I don’t execpt us to do anything for these women who were tortured and reduced to slavery.

I know one dominican Irakien priest who works for their reintegration in their community and general community.

And we should of course support any and all clergy and missionaries who work to help these women, or any other people undergoing similar trauma.


agree, except i think “irakiens” are in better position to understand what their population had gone through and what their culture are, and in a bteter position to offer more adequate support than strangers missionnaries.

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did you just conflate ISIS with the Catholic Church?

No the Church has not been conflated with ISIS.

I really don’t see any point for a rape victim to be subjected to useless vaginal surgery.

I mean, early church’s/some people’s insistence on Mary needing to have miraculously birthed Jesus without him going through the birth canal implies that there’s some belief in the concept of physical virginity (that her giving birth naturally would mean she’s not a virgin).

But anyone with half a brain would know that hymen and virginity are not related and the concept of physical virginity is ridiculous.

Some Catholics in different cultures may still believe in this though, but no, the Church itself does not believe in that concept of virginity

Joan of Arc was subjected to virginity tests. This means that an intact hymen was believed to be essential for virginity.

This is an excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

Morally, virginity signifies the reverence for bodily integrity which is suggested by a virtuous motive. Thus understood, it is common to both sexes, and may exist in a women even after bodily violation committed upon her against her will. Physically, it implies a bodily integrity, visible evidence of which exists only in women.

While it says that moral virginity exists in males & females after rape, it also says that physical virginity is a bodily integrity found only in women, possibly meaning an intact hymen. It also says that moral virginity is reverence for bodily integrity, possibly meaning the intention to keep a hymen intact.

The person was asking about the Church position on virginity today, not the Church position in Joan of Arc’s time.
(Not to mention that the entire Joan of Arc situation with a saint being ultimately burned at the stake showed great wrongs being done by those in authority. )

This question has come up before when people asked if a rape victim would be considered a virgin for the purposes of joining a religious order or being a consecrated virgin. It has been answered on here in the past by people with knowledge of religious orders and their virginity requirements.
The current Church position is that a virgin is someone who has not had consensual sex; it is not dependent on the hymen, and being raped does not disqualify you.

It appears the rule was changed around 1970. Prior to that time, the Church position was different. The Catholic Encyclopedia likely has the old pre-1970 rule.

The current rule and the change is fully explained here.

If you have further issues regarding the rule change, you may want to start a thread in Vocations where people who have deeper knowledge of the virginity rule will be able to discuss with you.

They live in a completely different culture than we do. For most of us it would be pointless, but for them if might be necessary for them to not be shunned from their community and to get married. They have already suffered so much and any efforts to help them is good. It is sad that their culture views virginity as jist something physical, but there is probably nothing we can do to change that.

It seems that the Church has recognized phsyical virginity, but it places much more importance on spiritual virginity, or being pure and chaste

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The term physical virginity in itself has no real meaning. Women can be born without it, it can break through non sexual activities etc.

There were people who did not have such knowledge and mistakenly believed this was a good indicator of virginity. Now that we know better, the Church doesn’t hold onto this view.

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