Gillian Keegan – 2022 Statement on Hymenoplasty

The statement made by Gillian Keegan, the Minister for Care and Mental Health, in the House of Commons on 16 March 2022.

On 23 December 2021, as part of the “Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy in England” publication, the Government announced its intention to ban the hymenoplasty procedure in the United Kingdom at the earliest opportunity:

Our Vision for the Women’s Health Strategy for England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

We are already working to ban virginity testing and introduced a Government amendment to the Health and Care Bill in November to do so. Banning hymenoplasty is another important milestone in the Government’s ongoing mission to tackle violence against women and girls.

Hymenoplasty, a procedure which involves reconstructing the hymen, is a tool of honour-based abuse and, like virginity testing, is used to oppress vulnerable women and girls.

The Government’s decision to ban hymenoplasty followed the recommendations of an independent expert panel (the panel), that was established to look at the clinical and ethical implications of banning the procedure. The panel was made up of clinicians, ethicists, and subject matter experts and I would like to place on record my thanks to all members of the panel for their input in this process.

The panel made a suite of recommendations in their final report: Expert panel on hymenoplasty – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), which we are accepting in full. This includes introducing legislation to create a criminal offence of hymenoplasty alongside the prohibition of virginity testing; ensuring there are no medical exemptions including for victims of rape; issuing guidance to support healthcare professionals to carry out risk assessments when hymenoplasty is requested; and providing adequate resources for community engagement.

Our work to ban the harmful practice of virginity testing and our commitment to banning the hymenoplasty procedure demonstrate that the safety of women and girls is at the forefront of this Government’s agenda.

By banning both procedures this Government will ensure the United Kingdom is a safer place for women and girls.