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An Egyptian scholar has called for the death penalty for people caught importing a new “female virginity-faking device” into the country. The product, a condom which simulates vaginal bleeding, is seen as a “cheap and simple alternative to hymen repair surgery” for a woman who must “feign virginity on her wedding night” in order to avoid the social repercussions of premarital sex. The condom, produced in China, is currently being sold in Syria for $15 a pop. So, how does it work?
Ten years ago, the design (or a very similar one) was patented in the United States by Shahram Shawn Omrani of Passaje, N.J. The product, called the “Condom Simulating Virginity,” consists of a flexible, open-ended sheath (like your regular Trojan), but is outfitted with an additional burstable pouch “containing a red colored fluid simulating blood.” The pouch is constructed from a weaker material than the condom itself so that the blood compartment “ruptures during sexual intercourse, while the sheath remains intact.” Unlike your standard translucent condom, this prophylactic is meant to be made from a dark material to help conceal the red liquid stored inside. If all goes according to plan, the man straps on the condom before sex, the woman appears to bleed during intercourse, and nobody is the wiser.
According to the patent application, the condom was designed to serve cultures where “virginity is demanded of a bride.” Writes Omrani, “it is possible that a prospective bride is no longer a virgin, and hence risks being undesirable or subject to scorn and disapproval should her status become known after a marriage. In extreme cases, some cultures even sanction killing of a non-virgin bride. The applicant is unaware of apparatus which will simulate discharge of blood which ordinarily accompanies first sexual intercourse undertaken by a virgin woman, this being the effect of the present invention.”
I’m troubled that a product like the “Condom Simulating Virginity,” which should never even exist, appears to be in high demand in some corners of the world. I’m saddened that female virginity is still considered a requirement for marriage in some cultures. I’m frustrated that the presence of an intact hymen (which can break under a variety of conditions, including rape) is considered proof of that virginity, and bleeding (not everybody bleeds) is considered proof of an intact hymen. Mostly, though, I’m concerned that the condom is not going to work.
The virginity condom theory has a few serious holes in it. Though condoms are said to have originated in Egypt, the use of any condom—-much less a blood-filled virginity condom—-is still stigmatized in the country. What if the man does not want to use a condom on his wedding night? What if he doesn’t want to use a strange, dark-colored condom on his wedding night? What if the condom breaks too early, or doesn’t break? What if he realizes that the condom he is rolling on his penis is outfitted with a pouch of liquid? What if he realizes that the condom, which is designed to rupture, has strangely broken?
It’s already clear that for some Egyptian women, the consequences of premarital sex are high. Now that the virginity-simulating device has been relatively popularized in the country, I’m afraid we’ll hear more about the consequences reserved for women forced to fake it.