Punishment for virginity certificates?
A debate has flared up in France over "virginity certificates" issued by doctors after Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in an interview that he plans to make the practice a punishable offence. Several doctors responded on 16 September with an appeal to the government published in the daily Libération to reconsider the plans. Other commentators welcome the initiative.
Penalising doctors won't help women
A group of doctors criticises the project in a joint appeal in Libération:
“The existing law already allows for a year of imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 euros for certificates of convenience. The penalty can be doubled if the doctor receives any advantage in return. A new law is therefore unnecessary - and also impracticable, since such certificates are only used in the private sector. In order to punish a crime or an offence, one must first be able to identify it. To punish us is to act against the consequences rather than the cause, which is rooted in ignorance and fear. Only education will empower these young women.”
Laws always convey a message
Even if the doctors think they are helping the girls intervention is needed in this case, philosopher Michela Marzano stresses in La Stampa:
“I am extremely sensitive to the risk that so many young women take, and I think that we must all work together to find the best way to protect them. But I am also convinced that laws always have a symbolic value and that a ban would send a message - in this specific case that this practice is an unacceptable barbarity in 2020. ... Not to intervene and simply hope that things might one day change would mean supporting the idea that a young woman should submit to the will of her parents or her future husband.”