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08/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

India Bridal Virginity Tests Spur Criticism

Criticism is being directed towards India's Madhya Pradesh state following reports that poor, tribal brides taking part in a mass state-run wedding underwent 'virginity tests' to guarantee that they were still chaste, BBC reports. However, state officials are denying that there was any such humiliating or intrusive directive, only that women were tested for pregnancy. From BBC:

Eyewitnesses said the women had to queue up before undergoing an extensive physical examination by a female doctor before they were given a special badge which allowed them to participate in the ceremony.

Several of the women were quoted as saying that they had at first refused to submit to the test - but were told by officials that they would receive their wedding gifts worth 6,500 rupees (about $132) only if they took the test.

According to the BBC report, India's National Commission for Women, an advocacy group, is leading the charge against Madhya Pradesh, saying, "such a shameful act where girls had to reportedly undergo tests to prove their chastity to avail the government's financial aid were sinful and could not be tolerated in a sane society."

A state spokesman said the tests were performed because more women than expected appeared for the mass wedding--some without proper documents, according to the BBC.

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