Far too many women fear the repercussions of not bleeding on their wedding night, concludes Anthropologist Sherria Ayuandini.
After extensive research conducted in the Netherlands, Ayuandini has concluded that the main reason women consider undergoing hymenoplasty – the reconstruction of the hymen – is due to the widespread belief that a woman should bleed the first time she has intercourse, despite this being true for only 40 to 50 per cent of women. ‘Women are afraid that if they do not bleed, they will be sent away for not being a virgin,’ says Ayuandini. ‘Or that they will be beaten. One of the women I spoke was even afraid of being murdered.’
Because medical necessity for the operation is rare, doctors will often try to convince women to consider other options – like making a small cut in the finger – after explaining their anatomy. And yet almost 30 per cent of women still choose to undergo hymenoplastia in hospitals where the procedure costs 1,500 euros. The go-through rate in private clinics, where a hymenoplastia costs a mere 150 euros, is much higher at 60 per cent.
‘Doctors tend to see the operation as doing these women a favour, although a doctor in a hospital is more likely to see dissuading women from undergoing the operation as a success story, and doctors in private clinics see the operation as more of a charity case, hence the difference in costs,’ says Ayuandini.
Sherria Ayuandini will present her research For One Drop of Blood: Virginity, Sexual Norms and Medical Processes in Hymenoplasty Consultations in the Netherlands on Thursday 6 June at 14.00 in the Agnietenkapel. The event will be held in English.