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New York lawmakers introduce bills to ban virginity testing following T.I. interviews

New York state lawmakers have introduced two bills that would prevent doctors from performing virginity exams. The move comes after rapper T.I. received considerable backlash following an interview in which he said he accompanies his daughter to the gynecologist to "check her hymen" is still intact, and a subsequent interview during which he attempted to clarify those remarks.

Identical bills filed in the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly seek to ban "licensed medical practitioners from performing or supervising virginity examinations and subjects any medical practitioner who does perform or supervise such performance to professional misconduct penalties as well as possible criminal charges."

The bill would not outlaw all medical hymen examinations but specifically, "the performance of hymen examinations on women as a means to ascertain whether a woman is a virgin."

According to the justification section for the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, "these examinations are not only a violation of women's and girls' human rights, but in cases of rape can cause additional pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, leading to re-experience, re-traumatization and re-victimization."

"The term 'virginity' is not a medical or scientific term," the justification also noted. "Rather, the concept of 'virginity' is a social, cultural and religious construct - one that reflects gender discrimination against women and girls. As a result, the United Nations, along with the World Health Organization, U.N. Women and U.N. Human Rights, called for a global ban on the practice."

A 2018 report from WHO noted that "'Virginity testing' has no scientific or clinical basis. There is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex — and the appearance of girl's or woman's hymen cannot prove whether they have had sexual intercourse, or are sexually active or not."

"Virginity testing" made headlines in early November when rapper T.I. said during an appearance on the podcast "Ladies Like Us" when he discussed how he handled talking about sex with his oldest daughter and told the hosts, "We have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen."

"Yes, I go with her," he also said.

Solages, who represents Long Island's Nassau County, told the New York Post she was "horrified" to see his comments. 

"It's misogynistic, it's appalling," Solages said. "If a celebrity can impose his power to ensure his 18-year-old daughter gets checked, imagine what can be done in households across New York state?"

T.I. later tried to clarify those comments on the Facebook Watch show "Red Table Talk." He told host Jada Pinkett Smith, "From a place of truth, I began to embellish and exaggerate. I think that a lot of people kind of took it extremely literal."

"I never said I was in any exam room. That is an assumption — that is a falsity," he said. However, he did confirm the exams had been performed in the past. "I never said that it was being done present day, as an 18-year-old. And, I never said that her mother wasn't present. Yeah, her mom was present every time," he said.

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