I was going to do a piece on the recent reports that there has been a small increase in hymenoplasty operations (also known as “virginity repair” operations, though they don’t really repair anything), but there wasn’t really enough data available to write one – they were based on unreleased data, and the only parts the papers quoted were a statistically insignificant variation in NHS operations (from 24 to 30) and the hearsay of private doctors. Since without the data, I couldn’t really say whether any of the articles were justified, I decided to leave it (Minority Thought does have a good piece about how The Express spun it into an anti-Muslim story though).
Today, however, Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail decided that this complete lack of data is no obstacle to a 500-word piece attacking the NHS, Muslims and that pesky lack of modern morals.
Three months ago, Bill Phelps became a widower — he watched, helpless, as his cancer-stricken young wife Nikki’s life slowly ebbed away.
Nikki, 37, a former teacher and mother of two-year-old twins, was denied the drug that might have saved her life, as it was deemed too costly by her NHS Primary Care Trust.
The problem with this is that she did get the drug she needed on the NHS, though admittedly only after the papers campaigned, but before that she was receiving the drug privately. Throughout the entire course of her disease, she received the drug. She died as a result of the progression of the disease, not a gap in her treatment. For Platell to co-opt this woman’s death and claim she died as a result of the NHS’s actions is awful, and I’m tempted to just end the post here.
I wonder, then, how Mr Phelps feels after reading yesterday’s report that the NHS is happy to foot the bill for young women to have ‘virginity repairs’?
If Platell had read the article she’s referring to, she’d have seen that:
‘The NHS does not fund hymen repair operations for cultural reasons. All operations on the NHS are on the basis of clinical need.
‘Operations to repair the hymen are only carried out exceptionally to secure physical or psychological health.’
Given there’s valid surgical reasons behind the NHS funded operations, I’d hope he wouldn’t mind, though that still doesn’t stop Platell building up a strawman NHS to attack.
How can it be right that the mother of his two little boys was condemned to death by an NHS that put women’s desire to appear ‘untouched’ before the right of a mother to live as long as she can to raise her children?
The NHS was not paying to satiate “women’s desire to appear ‘untouched’”, it was paying to help people who have actual mental distress.
Latest figures show that there has been a 25 per cent rise in hymen replacement operations carried out on the NHS over the past four years.
And, while there is no way of knowing the ethnic, cultural or religious background of the women undergoing these procedures, we do know that there has been a three-fold increase in Muslim women having the operation done privately — fearful that a future husband might discover they were not a virgin on their wedding night.
No. According to the article, some private surgeons have reported a threefold increase in the number of operations, and noticed that quite a few of their patients were Muslims. An increase in people having private hymenoplasty operations is still disturbing, for what I hope are obvious reasons, but the NHS is not funding them.
The 25% increase, by the way, is from 24 to 30. That’s only an increase of 6, which appears to be statistically fairly insignificant – without the full data I can’t tell though.
Might some of the rise in NHS cases be for the same reason? The NHS insists that it carries out the procedure only ‘to secure physical or psychological health’.
The same justification is often used for state-funded cosmetic procedures such as breast reductions.
Yes, on breast cancer sufferers and women whose breasts are heavy enough to cause pain. Both of these would seem to be entirely eligible for surgical intervention. Note by the way that both hymenoplasty and breast reduction are procedures carried out exclusively on women (or in the case of breast reduction, perceived as being for women only). There’s a point to be made somewhere here about plastic surgery being seen as an entirely female and entirely useless field of medicine, but I’ll leave that to someone more knowledgeable.
Whatever the case, I find it astonishing that at a time when women are dying because they can’t get cancer treatment, other women are having their virginity repairs paid for by the State.
Second verse, same as the first.
Let me be clear: I have every sympathy for a woman, of whatever cultural origin, who is so fearful of an oppressive partner that she would seek surgery to restore her ‘purity’.
We must never forget that it’s certain men who are to blame for this, as they demand a standard of behaviour from their wives, sisters and daughters that they would not dream of applying to themselves.
This is a clever deflection. By claiming sympathy (quite warranted) for people who want to “restore their ‘purity’”, she manages to carefully duck professing sympathy for people who, for whatever reason – rape, a change of lifestyle, or, yes, cultural pressure – have actual mental illness brought on by the state of their hymens.
But how can we defend aesthetic breast procedures, sex- change operations or hymen repairs at a time of crippling national debt, and when we have some of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe?
NHS breast procedures are not aesthetic, and sex-change operations are clinically indicated for psychological reasons, as is hymen repair. The cancer survival rate is based on a study from a couple of years ago (which used decade-old data), whose authors later pointed out that countries who appeared to have a worse cancer survival rate – the UK, Denmark and Austria – were also the countries which didn’t report less life-threatening tumours – skin melanomas, for example, as well as very early-stage breast cancer – as cancer. Since they only reported the potentially deadly cancers, their death rate of course appeared higher, leading the authors of the study to stress “What we are slightly concerned about is where people have tried to present the data as a league table when there are these important caveats to consider“.
The article ends with a rather nasty postscript:
If it’s imperative for a woman to be a virgin bride, then may I suggest a simple and less painful solution? Don’t have sex before your wedding day.
And may I suggest, in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, that you take a flying fuck at the moon?