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Swedish docs under fire for newlywed 'hymen tip'

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 24 Aug 2011, 11:58

Published: 24 Aug 2011 11:58 GMT+02:00

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"Society should never condone or accept or promote, give fuel to this kind of madness," Eduardo Grutzky who works with social issues such integration, racism and culture at ALMAeuropa, told The Local on Wednesday.

Grutzky expressed support for doctors on an individual level and explained that in Sweden they are faced with dual challenges on a practical and a normative level.

"Doctors should make decisions according to their conscience when they meet concrete cases, if they feel their patients are in great danger. This is something they do all the time," he said.

"But on a normative level, it is a catastrophe, it is a violation of any idea of dignity and human rights to go out and give information and tips to propagate something that societies accept."

The controversial guidelines were first developed by Karolinska hospital's SESAM unit for sexual health in 2004 and were penned by Lotti Hellström, a doctor employed at the South Stockholm General Hospital unit for raped victims.

The advice given is that girls should pierce their genitals with a needle hidden perhaps in the fold of her dress on her wedding night to simulate the so-called breaching of the hymen.

Despite the criticism the advice is still offered by several major Swedish healthcare institutions and Hellström has defended the advice in order to protect a young woman's life.

Eduardo Grutzky told The Local that in visits to youth health clinics across Sweden he has found that many are at a loss at what to do.

"The clinics don't know what to do. I have suggested that they have a (virginity) certificate ready, posted at the door on which girls can just fill in their names," he said, underlining that virginity is impossible to prove and that the needle advice is just one of the "many systems for simulating chastity".

The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för sexuell upplysning – RFSU) in 2009 published an informational pamphlet on the female reproductive organs which featured the new Swedish term for the hymen, slidkrans (vaginal corona).

The group hoped the new term would displace mödomshinna, which translates literally as “virginity membrane” and led to misconceptions about female sexuality, according to RFSU.

Eduardo Grutzky called for a major information campaign to address the issue of virginity and to "expose the myth of the hymen".

Story continues below…

"What society has to do is to create a huge campaign of education and give information to everybody and the public - the hymen is a myth, it doesn’t exist, if they bleed it does not mean anything."

Gender Equality Nyamko Sabuni considers the advice given to some girls to be unacceptable and called for the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to be tasked with developing guidelines for how the Swedish healthcare system can give advice on problems posed by the virginity issue.

"Girls should be given support based on the accurate information. Swedish healthcare should not be devoting its time to maintaining myths," Sabuni told the TT news agency.

"If there is a real threat to the girl then the social services should be contacted and the perpetrator dealt with," she said.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:37 August 24, 2011 by StockholmSam
This wouldn't be necessary if such so-called "honor cultures" were a tad more...honorable.
13:54 August 24, 2011 by conboy
A sad tale to behold!
13:57 August 24, 2011 by Tysknaden
Those doctors tried to protect young women's lifes. Nothing wrong with it.
14:10 August 24, 2011 by Osk
Suggesting women deceive is simply reinforcing the myth. Of course ignorance is a problem and needs to be dealt with but here we go again with people trying to be PC and doing no good at all in the longer term.
14:34 August 24, 2011 by jamesblish
Sad to see some people can't or won't stand up for the core beliefs of our country.
16:39 August 24, 2011 by rob582
Sad though the story is, this would definitely bepreferable to a cup of Acid in the face or stoning to death.
17:33 August 24, 2011 by Osk
But Rob582 none of them are acceptable in the Uk, or Sweden or most European countries so stand up and say so. Anyone from anywhere of any religion needs to be deported from any country in which they perform acts that are unacceptable to whichever country they are in. It is not too difficult to identify cultural practices from other countries that are not acceptable. On entry, or given residency, or asylum those from that country can be clearly educated that such practices are not acceptable and if they carry them out they will be deported.
17:35 August 24, 2011 by Gretchen
These so called "honour" cultures are the problem - not the doctors!
17:40 August 24, 2011 by Svensksmith
Honour culture....political doublespeak.
20:22 August 24, 2011 by calebian22
These honor cultures are just another reason why SD is continuing to grow. Doctors shouldn't have to deal with this ridiculous ignorance. Deport members of these honor cultures back to the backwater they came from.
20:38 August 24, 2011 by TomasBrolin
Get the '24-year-rule' in like Denmark, so we can stop importing these vulgar traditions.
20:39 August 24, 2011 by ajs42548
It's not rocket science. When a person immigrates to a country, in this case Sweden, They should be told what is acceptable and what is not. If they can't agree to this, then they should not be admitted. If they agree but then violate that agreement, then deportation should be immediate. Is wife beating acceptable in Sweden if it's acceptable in the country of origin? So what's the problem.
21:52 August 24, 2011 by mkvgtired
Better than being killed I guess. Sorry, I'm in the dark. When they say "honor culture" are they talking about the Danes?
22:19 August 24, 2011 by wxman
Just protecting women from evil, murdering Islamo-Fascists, what's wrong with that?
04:14 August 25, 2011 by Da Goat
yes we need to put that old myth to bed,

a lot of women never had hymens and with tampons the ones that did no longer do ! it is a worthless/meaningless thing and the myth is also!
10:21 August 25, 2011 by johnny1939
@ Da Goat

would not be surprised if tampons are forbidden in those cultures.

I am so sick and tired of women being treated like chattel. I wish I knew what to do about it. These people seem to live in the stone ages(no pun intended).

Let's start a revolution!!!!
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