PARIS, KOMPAS.com – A reality television series in France drew criticism from high-ranking government officials over the broadcast asking brides to test their virginity.
Citizenship Minister Marlene Schiappa has written a letter to the French broadcast watchdog, CSA, stating that she is “angry” over the series. Incredible Gypsy Weddings, especially when showing a ritual in which the bride is examined by a female relative before the wedding, whether she is still a virgin or not.
The program was inspired by serials Big Fat Gypsy Weddings broadcast by the channel Channel 4 English. However, the difference is, the French series that aired on the channel TFX it follows the courtship and marriage traditions of the Catalan gypsy community who live in Perpignan.
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In the issue that aired in February, viewers were shown footage of the preparations for a lavish wedding, including the bridal bed. There, the bride underwent a virginity test through the ritual “handkerchief ceremony.”
The snippet is accompanied by a narrative: “In this bed, a girls which has been trained special, will check Naomi’s hymen with a soft tissue. Handkerchief ceremony this is sublime and inescapable. J
In another scene, the women from the community explain why the ceremony is important. “This is for the (bride’s) family,” said one of them. “So they will know he has received a beautiful woman who is still a virgin.”
“From the time the woman was a baby until she grew up she was taught to know that she has to have this ceremony, to get all her dresses, to get her wedding,” said another.
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When asked whether men should be faced with similar questions, another woman replied: “That’s not the way it is. It is based on the principle that if a young man does not go to parties and date other girls before he is married, then she would miss the opportunity. Meanwhile it is an experience she must have. “
That is why Minister Schiappa in his letter admitted that he was angry with the storyline of the program, which continued to air without anyone questioning it.
“The institution of marriage in our Republic is being trampled on, without anyone commenting in an appropriate way,” he said.
He said the footage of the scene was becoming “even more sickening” because the National Assembly had just passed legislation “which prohibits virginity testing and guarantees the consent of the bride and groom to marry”.
Meanwhile, an article in the Anti-Separatism Bill – currently being discussed in the Senate – prohibits doctors from issuing virginity certificates. The article is aimed primarily at the French Muslim community, where some families insist on proving the virginity of the bride and groom before marriage. The practice itself is still being debated.
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Under the bill, which has been approved by the DPR, doctors who certify virginity will face one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros (Rp. 256 million). Meanwhile, a non-medical expert who performs a virginity test, even with the woman’s consent, is at risk of being charged with rape.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the practice of examining the hymen visually or with fingers cannot prove whether a woman has had intercourse or not. It is also a violation of the human rights of the woman concerned, the organization said.
Schiappa had previously complained about sexism on French television. Last year, as minister for gender equality, she produced a report criticizing reality television programs for presenting stereotypes.
“Program-program reality TV emphasizes the hyper-femininity of female candidates and the ultra-masculinity of men. From this dichotomy emerges a stereotypical and unequal vision of the relationship between men and women, “the report said.
She also complained about popular French wedding TV shows, such as Four Marriages for a Honeymoon, where couples are compared with each other to assess the quality of their marriage, and Married at First Sight where the couples on the show marry within hours of first seeing each other, and cameras then follow and record their wedding journey.
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