Human Rights Watch today released a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, condemning the re-institution of virginity exams for girls studying in medical high schools in Turkey.

"These exams violate women's bodily integrity and involve pain, humiliation, and intimidation," said LaShawn Jefferson, Acting Executive Director of the Women's Rights Division. "Also, such tests discriminate against women and girls. Male students do not face similar treatment."

Until the recent decree by the Minister of Health Osman Durmus that the government again planned to force girls to submit to the exams, virginity testing had been banned. Local Turkish women's human rights organizations criticized the government for resurrecting the practice. Human Rights Watch called on the Prime Minister and the Health Minister to rescind the order immediately. A copy of the letter to Prime Minister Ecevit is attached.

For more information on virginity testing in Turkey, please see Human Rights Watch's report, A Matter of Power: State Control of Women's Virginity in Turkey (1994).