Virgin on the ridiculous

Women get 'virginity fix' on NHS
Women are being given controversial "virginity repair" operations on the NHS, it emerged last night. Taxpayers funded 24 hymen replacement operations between 2005 and 2006, official figures revealed. And increasing numbers of women are paying up to £4,000 in private clinics for the procedure apparently under pressure from future spouses or in-laws who believe they should be virgins on their wedding night. Doctors said most patients are immigrants or British of ethnic origin. The trend has been condemned by critics as a sign of social regression driven by Islamic fundamentalists. Some countries have made hymen reconstruction operations illegal.

Dr Magdy Hend, consultant gynaecologist at the Regency Clinic, Harley Street, London, who started hymen reconstruction more than 18 years ago in the Middle East and the Gulf, said: "In some cultures they like to see that the women will bleed on the wedding night. If the wife or bride is not a virgin, it is a big shame on the family." Dr Hend said he was surprised by the "very good response" to the service and said there is "big competition on the market". The operation can involve suturing of a tear in the hymen, such as might be caused by sexual assault, to help healing. But it can also be conducted as a purely cosmetic procedure. A membrane is constructed, sometimes including a capsule of an artificial blood-like substance. This operation is intended to be performed within a few days before an intended marriage.