France remains undecided whether to ban virginity testing in the country or not. Muslims and Roma families in France use virginity testing as proof of virginity pre-wedlock, but the United Nations says the test is inaccurate and violates human rights.

This week, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a year in prison and a 15,000-euro fine for any medical professional who issues a virginity certificate. According to experts, however, the proposal to ban virginity testing in the country—which is part of a broader Islamic separatism bill due in parliament in December—could lead to an unintended outcome.

Doctors believe the ban would force women to pay excessive fees for illegal tests or risk violent repercussions from family members, partners, or putative in-laws if they lack proof.

“Penalizing doctors is to close the only door for patients, where they could have found help and advice,” said gynecologist Ghada Hatem-Gantzer. “It is undoubtedly promoting a black market for certificates that dubious pharmacies will charge dearly for,” she added.

In conducting the virginity test, a doctor inspects the hymen to see if there are tears. While it is not clear how many virginity tests are carried out every year, doctors say the test is most common among teenage girls or young women who are under family pressure.

“There is no data, either official or unofficial, on the number of requests for virginity certificates,” said gynecologist Martine Hatchuel. “Personally, I have around two to four requests per year, almost always very young girls brought by their mothers.”

Experts say the motivation for getting a virginity test is often the fear of being judged or staying an old maid. Single women in particular fear being rejected if they fail to show a virginity certificate to families where traditional gender expectations govern marriages.

“Their motivation is always: ‘it is my parents/my step-family/my in-laws who demand it, if it were up to me I wouldn’t ask for anything,” said Hatem-Gantzer.

French President Emmanuel Macron French President Emmanual Macron calls for a new government for Lebanon. Getty/ Jean Catuffe