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T.I. controversy causes US lawmakers to introduce new bills to ban virginity testing

New legislation would prevent "licensed medical practitioners from performing or supervising virginity examinations"

Two new bills set to ban virginity testing have proposed by New York lawmakers following controversial comments rapper T.I. made over his daughter’s virginity.

Last month, the ‘Trap Muzik’ rapper claimed that he accompanies his daughter to the gynaecologist once a year to “check her hymen”, reasoning that she’s likely to be sexually active if it’s broken. “As of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact,” he said, speaking on the Ladies Like Us podcast.

Now, New York state senator Roxanne Persaud and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages have introduced new legislation that would prevent “licensed medical practitioners from performing or supervising virginity examinations and subjects any medical practitioner who does perform or supervise such performance to professional misconduct penalties as well as possible criminal charges.”

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The bills will not outlaw all medical hymen examinations but specifically, “the performance of hymen examinations on women as a means to ascertain whether a woman is a virgin.”

According to the justification section for the bill, “these examinations are not only a violation of women’s and girls’ human rights, but in cases of rape can cause additional pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, leading to re-experience, re-traumatization and re-victimization.”

“The term ‘virginity’ is not a medical or scientific term,” the justification also noted. “Rather, the concept of ‘virginity’ is a social, cultural and religious construct – one that reflects gender discrimination against women and girls. As a result, the United Nations, along with the World Health Organization, U.N. Women and U.N. Human Rights, called for a global ban on the practice.”

In response to T.I.’s comments, Assemblywoman Solages stated in an interview with the New York Times that “it’s misogynistic, it’s appalling… I was horrified to see this was happening. If a celebrity can impose his power to ensure his 18-year-old daughter gets checked, imagine what can be done in households across New York state?”

T.I. addressed the criticism he faced for the remark during an episode of Jada Smith’s Red Table Talk. He claimed that the comment was made “in a very joking manner” and that “from a place of truth, [he] began to embellish and exaggerate.”

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“My intentions, I think, have been terribly misconstrued and misconceived,” he continued.

“Let me go set this record straight. I never said I was in any exam room. That is an assumption. That is a falsity. I never said that it was being done present-day, as an 18-year-old.”

The artist’s wife Tiny Harris – aka Ms. Niko – added that their daughter “was 15 and 16 years old at the time” of the test. T.I. then explained that “her mom was present every time” she visited the gynaecologist.

T.I. said that he was “incredibly apologetic” towards Deyjah as she took issue with her father discussing the subject publicly.

Earlier this year, T.I. spoke out against the Leaving Neverland documentary, accusing its makers and distributors of attempting to “destroy” black culture.

The 38-year-old rapper has responded to the airing of HBO/Channel 4’s documentary, which details allegations of child sexual abuse by the late Michael Jackson, saying that the film tears down “another strong black historical LEGEND”.

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