Does virginity have value?

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SummaryMen’s barbaric ways are tormenting women in India. Story after story of brutal abuses against women is being reported.

Men’s barbaric ways are tormenting women in India. Story after story of brutal abuses against women is being reported. But on the globe’s other side, girls are posting their readiness to sell their virginity on a website that’s just auctioned off two virgins. Advances in medical technology have put so many human parts up for sale, like kidneys, eyes, heart, sperms, eggs, wombs for research, to save lives or help homosexual couples father a child. And yet, the auction of a hymen seems to supersede all sales! In my current gender equilibrium series, should I consider this feat as women’s liberty? Nobody forced the brave girl to sell her virginity. She proved that certain men fantasise women’s virginity and consciously extracted that worth from the marketplace.

Listening as I often do to international media, it intrigued me the other day when the famous French radio station Europe One aired a very bubbly French-accented Vihrgeens Onthed (Virgins Wanted) annals programme. Twenty-year-old Brazilian Catarina Migliorini’s virginity was put on auction on an Australian website together with boy virgin, Alexander Stepanov. The bid started with $1 in Brazil, then spread worldwide. On October 24, 2012, both were sold: Catarina fetched a whopping $780,000 with 15 bids. Her third highest bidder was an Indian, Rudra Chatterjee, the runner-up American Jack Miller, while Natsu, a Japanese, won his prize “flying in a private jet between Australia and the US in order to counteract international prostitution laws”. Meanwhile, Alexander got eight bids and was sold for $2,800 only. Look at the premium female virginity commands even in today’s promiscuous society! Education and charity are on Catarina’s to-do list from this one-time bonanza she got.

Patriarchal societies, where women are considered subservient to men, are fixated on virginity. Deflowering a virgin supposedly gives men a sense of dominance and possession, a heady feeling of masculinity in drawing blood. It makes them winners, feudal owners of the conquest. In that act, women become losers, even though she’s just ruptured a body membrane. Some private clinics in Dubai are abetting unmarried girls to restore virginity by illegally performing hymen restoration or reconstruction surgeries. Banned for girls in most Arab countries where they’re expected to be virgins before marriage for cultural, social or religious reasons, such a surgery is supposedly a crime. But it’s not so if married women undergo this 90-minute surgery costing about Dh 10,000 ($2,700).

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