Women Must Prove Virginity Or Get Pap Smears In Order To Teach In Brazil

pelvic-exam

The São Paulo department of education’s standards for women are blatantly sexist and unconstitutional.

Under a state health standard, all teachers applying for jobs are required to undergo physical examinations. For men, this means prostate exams – only if they’re over 40 years old. For all women, this means invasive gynecological exams – or proof of virginity. Yes, you read that right.

“The education department of São Paulo state requires female prospective teachers to undergo a pap smear in order to prove they are free of a variety of cancers, or to present a doctor’s statement verifying they have not been sexually active. Until recently, it also required women to have a colposcopy, a type of visual examination used to detect disease.” [source]

These intrusive tests have been required since 2012 as a way to ensure that those seeking long-term positions are healthy and won’t need to take frequent absences due to health issues. But to be honest, these tests are more of an invasion of privacy than anything else.

Ana Paula de Oliveira Castro, a public defender of women’s issues in São Paulo, said:

“It violates women’s rights. It’s very intimate information that she has the right to keep. It’s absurd to continue with these demands.” [source]

Keeping women healthy and up-to-date on their reproductive health is great. Preventing them from getting a job because they have cancer or HPV is not. These guidelines are also flawed because virginity does not necessarily mean a clean bill of health – women who have never been sexually active can still develop reproductive cancers. So are these tests about a woman’s health or are they about a woman’s sexual choices?

São Paulo’s tests came to light after an ashamed 27-year-old woman spoke to a news site about how she had to ask a doctor for a note that verified she was a virgin so she could bypass the other invasive tests.

In 2013, female candidates applying for police jobs in northeastern Brazil were asked to undergo tests to prove their hymens were not torn.

São Paolo’s public management department says that the mandated gynecological exams are to “ensure, beyond technical ability, the physical and mental ability of candidates to keep their jobs for an average of 25 years.”

Brazil’s national Special Secretariat for Women’s Rights isn’t buying it. In a statement, it said:

“The woman has the right to choose whether to take an exam that will not affect her professional life. Such policies violate constitutional protections of human dignity and the principle of equality and right to private life.” [source]

The bar association of São Paulo have noted these practices as unconstitutional. Let’s hope these ridiculous standards don’t last much longer.