REPRODUCING VIOLENCE THROUGH RECONSTRUCTING THE HYMEN? Gender-Based Violence Against Women in Lebanon
Virginity in Lebanon is still a controversial and sensitive issue. Women’s value and honour is linked to the “hymen mystique”, which they fear losing before marriage. Regardless of the reasons for virginity loss, a non-virgin woman is deemed a sinner according to the Lebanese patriarchal social standards. With the existence of three-dimensional function of the hymen: honourable, social and physiological, hymen reconstruction surgeries emerged. Since studies and literature on hymenoplasty are limited and scarce, this research shed light on the prevalence of this practice, its causes, complications and consequences as well as its relation to women’s rights. It aimed at investigating hymenoplasty’s relation to gender-based violence against women in Lebanon from a structural feminist perspective. Grounded Theory was employed to analyse the data collected from personal interviews carried out with gynaecologists, psychologists and women’s rights activists. The findings revealed the main aim for restoring the hymen is to ensure bleeding on the wedding night as a sign of virginity and purity. Living in a paradoxical patriarchal society controlled by gendered socially constructed norms, culture and traditions drive women to resort to hymenoplasty. Religions and laws additionally entrench and enshrine those practices with their gendered legal articles and religious legislations. Hymenoplasty is a form of GBV as this research showed. It disempowers women and forces them to submit to the framework drawn by society instead of confronting and challenging it. This study concludes with recommendations and possible solutions to fight GBV. Removing the stigma from non-virginity, introducing sexual education at schools, educating both genders about their rights and the value of their bodies as well as legislating laws that safeguard women are prerequisites to attain gender equality and empower women to stand against practices that undermine their rights.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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