Honour-related threats and human rights: a qualitative study of Swedish healthcare providers' attitudes towards young women requesting a virginity certificate or hymen reconstruction

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2013 Dec;18(6):451-9. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2013.837443. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


Objectives: To investigate the preferred actions of healthcare staff, as well as their reasoning and attitudes about young females' requests for a virginity certificate or hymen restoration.

Method: A qualitative study, consisting of semi-structured interviews of healthcare providers from different parts of Sweden and from different medical specialties and professions, who had experience of women who asked for a virginity certificate or a hymen repair.

Results: Using content analysis, ten themes emerged regarding healthcare personnel's attitudes and reasoning about young female patients and their requests for demonstration of virginity. The themes logically were categorised as values, beliefs, and cultural affiliation.

Conclusions: Responders had a more pragmatic and permissive view than the restrictive, official Swedish policy opposing hymenoplasties within the public healthcare system. There were degrees of willingness to accommodate such requests, due, for example, to different moral beliefs and medical concerns. Responders expressed frustration over the difficulty of following up patients, a situation likely due to the restrictive policy. The patient-centred approach adopted by a Dutch team of health professionals would probably better enable quality assurance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Hymen / surgery*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sexual Abstinence* / ethnology
  • Sweden