A Matter of Life and Death!
Hymen Restoration – Hymenoplasty (reconstruction of the hymen) can repair or augment the hymen to restore it to its "virginal" state. Drs. Miklos & Moore are sensitive to the needs of women from all cultures that embrace these particular issues of hymen because of cultural, social or religious reasons. Before one questions the so called ethical issues of offering hymen restoration one must first understand the social, religious and cultural atrocities that are imposed upon women world wide. Writer Lara Naaman published the following prose in Alice Magazine in 2000. I doubt anyone could have written it better.
IS THERE HONOR IN DEATH
By Lara Naaman
In the United States, a young woman's virginity is fodder for moral debate, parental worry, and giggly columns in teen magazines. In many Arab cultures, however, a woman's virginity and chastity bears even greater weight and scrutiny as the key to her family's honor. The need to guard that honor is so great that it has led to the brutal practice of honor killings across the Middle East and in Pakistan.
Honor killings-the execution of women suspected of sexual improprieties-are often carried out by close family members in order to restore the honor tarnished by her behavior. This behavior can consist of anything from adultery to minimal contact with men outside the family. A woman's guilt is often assumed and her punishment carried out on the basis of a suspicion alone.
"In many families, they believe that, once she tarnishes the image, it's just like breaking glass," Rana Husseini told 20/20 last year. "It can't be fixed. And the only way to fix it is to kill her." Husseini, a crime reporter for the Jordan Times has been pivotal in bringing recent media visibility to the crime of honor killings.
Of course, that didn't stop Jordanian Mohammed Abed, who according the U.S. State Department reports, recently shot his sister to restore family honor.
"Abed pleaded not guilty to shooting his 19-year-old sister, Hanan, on the grounds that he had committed the crime in a 'fit of fury' to 'cleanse the family honor' after he heard that she had been 'going out to eat with another man, and was receiving gifts and money from him.'"
In a widely-publicized Pakistan case, one man set his sister afire for speaking to a man on the street. Her family admitted her to the hospital with the explanation that the stove had exploded and burned her. According to Amnesty International, "stove burning" is a common explanation for burn victims' injuries in Pakistani hospitals.
Pakistan, in fact, documented 132 honor killings in the first quarter of 1999-in one region alone. In Jordan, 25 murders per year-a quarter of the total-are honor killings. Since these types of crimes are not always reported or even considered crimes, say the experts, the actual numbers are most likely larger.
But are these killings truly a matter of honor? Or are they driven by economics? Muslims opposed to the ritual have been quick to argue that its practitioners misinterpret the Koran.
"Muslims today must unequivocally reject this distortion of Islam that is used to violate the most basic Islamic rights of human decency, integrity and justice," the Muslim Women's League said earlier this year. According to the MWL, "The prevailing view that devalues and belittles women is derived from sociocultural factors that are justified by a distorted and erroneous interpretation of religion, especially of Islam."
The actual punishment for adulterers stated in the Koran applies to both men and women, Muslim activists argue. Unmarried adulterers are to be punished with 100 lashes; while married adulterers should be punished by death-but only in the case that four witnesses have observed the actual event of intercourse.
In reality, the punishment of death has been reserved for women-married or unmarried-and has been executed at the slightest suspicion of impropriety and without the burden of proof called for in the Koran. While a patriarchal culture may account for some of the blatant discrimination involved in this ritual, economists say, various events in Pakistan and the Middle East reveal a monetary impetus.
A 1999 Amnesty International report on Pakistan describes "the commodification of women" in poorer regions. The report sites instances in which men have accused mothers, wives, or sisters of adultery in order to inherit land or money when the women are killed. In other instances, a debtor will falsely accuse a female family member of adultery with the creditor in the hope that the accused man will excuse the loan in order to avoid repercussions.
Another factor contributing to the pecuniary side of honor killing is the dowry system. This practice of grooms paying brides' families in order to marry is most prevalent in India, but extends to the Middle East. Having paid a particular price, the husband measures the quality of his purchased goods based on virginity and fidelity. A woman perceived as unfaithful is viewed as damaged goods and disposed of. Similarly, a woman who does not bleed on her wedding night will often either be killed by her husband or returned to her family. There, she may still risk death for dishonoring them and depriving the family of a sizable dowry payment.
In the Sanliurfa province of Turkey-where the price paid to a bride's family at marriage can be as much as $40,000 provided she is deemed pure on her wedding night-one man ran over his daughter with a tractor after her husband returned her. The husband alleged that she was pregnant with another man's child on their wedding night.
For cases in which a dishonored family accepts a woman back into the house without killing her, residual economic pressures remain. As rumors spread through often small, rural areas, people refuse to patronize the business of a family that has been dishonored. Out of concern for the financial welfare of the rest of the family, a brother or father will be pressured to restore family honor by murdering the dishonored woman.
"I would not want to harm my own child but I had no choice," one Turkish clerk told The Middle East Times. "Nobody would buy my produce. I had to make a living for my other children."
When family members themselves do not murder a dishonored woman, she may still suffer punishment at the hands of society or the law. Women under threat of honor killings are often jailed "for their protection" from family or community members who would prefer to see her dead. Almost 70 women are incarcerated in Jordanian jails at any given time for "protection" from honor killings. Laws in Lebanon and Jordan protect honor murderers by allowing lenient sentences for, and sometimes fully excusing, crimes committed in the name of honor.
The reason American culture, bravado and feminism may not support the concept of hymen restoration is because we are ignorant of others culture, religious beliefs or social taboos. Because these women happened to be born into a society which lives by a different set of customs or laws (no matter how inhumane and archaic they sound) are physicians to turn their backs on these individuals and shun them as their own family or husband would. The only question one needs to ask of a doctor who performs hymen restoration:
What will happen to these women if the
hymen restoration surgery is not performed?
Hymen restoration is a relatively simple outpatient procedure that can be completed under local anesthesia in an office type setting with mimimal risks. However, as with any surgical procedure, it is vital that the surgeon has extensive experience with vaginal reconstructive surgery otherwise risks can be much higher. Many women travel in by themselves secondary to privacy issues, and this is not a problem and can be arranged. For more information please visit Dr Moore and Miklos’s cosmetic surgery website at www.LVRatlanta.com.