Annales de dermatologie et de venereologie 2017 12 05() pii 10.1016/j.annder.2017.10.012
In the medical anthropology section of the Nanterre Hospital (France) for migrants and refugees, three cases were recorded of "virgin cleansing" in sub-Saharan African countries.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
These consisted of sexual assaults (2 instances of rape and 1 of sexual interference) on sexually immature females (young girls) by patients with sexually transmitted infections (mainly HIV, syphilis) hoping they might thereby be cured.
These particularly atrocious hetero-aggressive sexual practices based on magical arguments are unfortunately universal and are not limited to a specific culture. At the medical anthropology level, the belief in cleansing by virgins is based on the notion that the patient is dirty and impure. In the same way that emetics and/or laxatives are prescribed in the case of intestinal disorders (to "eliminate" the disease), some subjects use diuretics for urinary abnormalities or, literally, "clean vaginas (or anuses)" to purge their own miasma. The rising tide of population migrations (some of whom carry chronic infections), refugee camps, prolonged incarcerations, etc., makes observations of such phenomena increasingly frequent. Belief in cleansing by virgins (and the fatal consequences thereof) will be difficult to eradicate. The education of populations and health professionals should promote absolute respect for the body of children, and, more generally, of others, particularly since at this time of increasingly marked migratory flows, this problem sadly risks becoming widespread.