The beliefs, taboos, and false value placed on women’s virginity since immemorial times have been the cause of all kinds of atrocities. The exacerbated and imagined value given to the integrity of the hymen is still accepted and even established by many social and governmental institutions around the world, which has given way to the fact that, in 2021, the sale of virginity continues to exist.
Virginity has even been referenced to as “the only wealth the girls could offer”. It was (and still is for many countries) a passport to a marriage that could save them (and their families) from poverty, or that would heighten their social status.
For philosophers and anthropologists, the problem of its enhanced value goes back to the very definition of the concept, since while some people define it as never having had a sexual encounter, other definitions are limited to the integrity of the hymen. This adds to the illusion surrounding the concept, as the hymen can be broken in a fall or by a bicycle accident, just as there are procedures such as hymenoplasty, which reconstruct the hymen.
The sale of virginity: Both voluntary and imposed
In the last few years, there have been many cases around the world of girls that advertise, auction or sell their virginity publicly at high prices with the purpose of paying for their studies or to improve the financial situation of their families (or their own). There are even platforms on the Internet that are open to the public and that offer these types of services.
This has given rise to interviews, studies, and notes on girls who are offering their virginity, but it becomes a patriarchal demonstration once more since the man who pays these high amounts of money is neither studied nor interviewed, even when he is essential for these practices to continue, since there is no supply without demand.
These cases of girls who do this voluntarily (for whatever reason) are, ironically, who have been lucky, since a high number of girls and adolescents fall into virginity trafficking networks or sex trafficking networks, including sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation of children, children involved in prostitution, etc. All of this due to traumatic childhoods, kidnappings, or even sale of the child by their own family, almost always a low-income family.
Today, in the middle of 2021, the body is still seen as a commodity, and virginity as an “extra” value, an accessory that gives status to the merchandise and increases its value, not only because it is new, but because of the illusory virtue of exclusivity it provides.
In Central America, Mexico and some areas in the United States, the sale of virginity, human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children are much more common than we know or would like to think. There are girls being introduced to the world of prostitution as young as 11 years old, often by their own parents, who are the ones who should protect them the most.
In Colombia, human trafficking (and with it the sale of virginities), is the third largest source of income for transnational organized crime, and (worldwide, not just in Colombia) is linked to crimes such as kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, corruption, and trafficking in drugs and illegal immigrants.
Most times, victims of sale of virginities are girls from rural areas or slum communities, who belong to low-income, disintegrated families looking to improve their quality of life; although recently there is also a percentage of adolescents that wish to pay for their studies or financially help their family.
The testimonies of girls who were forced to sell their virginity are heartbreaking, and it is disheartening to think that, in Latin America as in many other countries of the world, it is enough to be part of a dysfunctional family or to have had the misfortune of being born in a place with low resources to be at risk of being put up for sale.
There are movements like #YoDigoNoMás, that are dedicated to helping those who have been through this and many other types of abuse. If you are interested in learning more about the ways in which the movement helps, or if you are interested in contributing to this cause, be part of this movement.
You can be part of the change, join this movement on behalf of yourself or hundreds of victims who have not been able to find their voice to speak out against this scourge.
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