Hmmm. There’s no question this phenomenon is real; Channel 4 (UK) covered it last month, taking care not to specify the background of the patients beyond delicately noting that most are “from ethnic minorities or immigrants.” There also seems little question that the basic narrative traced in the Daily Mail piece would resonate with some of those patients. Even so, read it and tell me if you don’t find some of the quotations a bit too … perfect, or pat. To wit:

“My virginity was restored in a delicate operation just last week, and I honestly view it as life-saving surgery,” says Aisha.

“If my husband cannot prove to his family that I am a virgin, I would be hounded, ostracised and sent home in disgrace. My father, who is a devout Muslim, would regard it as the ultimate shame.

“The entire family could be cast out from the friends and society they hold dear, and I honestly believe that one of my fanatically religious cousins or uncles might kill me in revenge, to purge them of my sins. Incredible as it may seem, honour killings are still accepted within our religion.

Do Brits use phrases like “hold dear” in casual conversation? And doesn’t that last sentence seem a trifle too neatly expository? What about this, in which “Aisha” describes sleeping with her boyfriend: “I wasn’t just a little Muslim girl, I was an independent young woman who could make up her own mind how she was going to live her life.” Something about that phrase “independent young woman” rings false; it sounds like mediaspeak, not the way someone would describe themselves (who emphasizes their own youth?). There are other clunky phrases, too, but judge for yourself. I’m not accusing anyone of shenanigans, just saying the stiltedness raised an eyebrow.

One other thing. Re: this–

“On the internet, I found the clinic of Dr Magdy Hend, at the Regency Clinic on Harley Street…

“The operation would involve taking the ‘torn’ parts of my hymen and basically stitching them back together, adding further tissue from the side of my vagina.

“If I wanted, just prior to my wedding he could place a capsule of blood into the hymen which would ensure a healthy amount of blood. It sounds barbaric, but what choice did I have?”

–Hend was also the subject of the Channel 4 story and told them that while the capsule procedure is depicted in the booklet he shows patients, he doesn’t do it because it’s “too crude, he says, the surgery is obvious and the woman is in danger of getting caught.” Not sure how to account for the discrepancy here.

But in case you’re wondering, yes, the procedure is indeed covered by Britain’s national health care.

Tags: religion