UK-wide ban on virginity testing and hymenoplasty

Date published: 01 July 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann today welcomed the UK Government’s announcement that it is now illegal to carry out, offer or aid and abet virginity testing or hymenoplasty in any part of the UK, as part of the Health and Care Act 2022. It is also illegal for UK nationals and residents to conduct these practices outside the UK.

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Minister Swann commented “For too long women and girls have been coerced, forced and shamed into undergoing these degrading and intrusive procedures which can lead to extreme psychological trauma in the victim, and can provoke conditions including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and have even been linked to suicide”.

“I welcome the enactment of this new UK-wide legislation which will ban these procedures, and forms a key part of our approach to tackle the prevalence of violence against women and girls”.  

This new legislation takes effect from today, 1 July 2022.

A range of supports for those affected by this issue is available in Northern Ireland, as follows:

NI Direct 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline

The Domestic and Sexual Abuse helpline is open to women and men affected by domestic abuse or violence. This free telephone service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Freephone: 0808 802 1414

Victim Support NI

Victim Support NI is an independent charity which helps people affected by crime. It offers a free and confidential service, whether or not a crime has been reported and regardless of how long ago the event took place.

Helpline: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Belfast Hub Office: 028 9024 3133      Foyle Hub Office: 028 7137 0086                                 

Children’s Law Centre

The Children’s Law Centre works to protect the rights of all children living in Northern Ireland, particularly those who are the most disadvantaged – for example, children with disabilities, special educational needs, mental ill health, homeless young people.

Phone:  028 9024 5704

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY)

The role of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People is to safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people. Part of NICCY’s role is to advise government and all its agencies on the policies, legislation, and services it provides for children, young people and their families.


Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland

The Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland works to ensure that there are no barriers to protecting children and young people up to the age of 18 in Northern Ireland. The board provides education on safeguarding, advises the Department of Health and engages with children and young people on the issues that matter to them.

Phone:   028 95 361810

Notes to editors: 

  1. The full details of the new legislation and the related guidance are available on GOV.UK.
  2. Guidance is intended for the use of chief executives, directors, senior managers, frontline professionals within agencies and anyone else who may come in to contact with women and girls affected by virginity testing and hymenoplasty. It encourages agencies to cooperate and work together to protect and support those at risk of, or who have undergone, these procedures
  3. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email
  4. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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