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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Taboo subject takes its toll on women

By Yang Wanli and Jiang Xueqing and He Na (China Daily)

09:01, March 08, 2012

Gao Weiwei (right), a lecturer, talks to students about the human body at a summer camp focusing on sex education. The camp, believed to be the first of its kind in Shanghai, was established in 2009. (Zhang Dong / for China Daily)

Male obsession with 'pure' brides highlights society's inequality, experts tell Yang Wanli in Anhui, and Jiang Xueqing and He Na in Beijing.

As the world marks International Women's Day on Thursday, China can reflect on many achievements in women's rights.

Yet, the issue of virginity appears to be just as divisive as ever.

Although attitudes toward sex have steadily become more relaxed over the last few decades, sociologists say little has changed when it comes to the desire among men for "pure" brides.

Guo Jianmei, director of the Beijing Zhongze Women's Legal Counseling and Service Center, said it is still common for men - especially in the countryside - to beat their wife if they discover she is not a virgin on their wedding day.

The center has recorded roughly 1,000 domestic violence cases since it was founded (originally as the Center for Women's Law and Legal Services at Peking University) in December 1995. Almost 30 percent were the result of a man becoming upset over the question of virginity, Guo said.

The situation is not much better in the cities.

Relatives of the Beijing bachelor Ma Fei, 39, have been trying to introduce him to potential girlfriends for some time. "A friend of my father said he knows a pretty girl studying at the Central Academy of Drama, but she is probably no longer a virgin, and so probably not good enough for me," Ma said.

"I have to admit, I still care about the virginity of a woman who might be my wife," he said. "If she has lost it, I need to know why."

"Non-virgins how can you have the nerve to get married?" read the headline of a recent post on Tianya, an Internet forum.

In the piece, the male author criticizes women who have had sex before marriage, denouncing them as cheap and having low moral fiber. They are unsuitable as wives, he says, because they will be easily seduced by other men.

The post received about 100 comments, with more than one-third supporting his view.

Wang Xingjuan, director of the Maple Women's Psychological Counseling Center in Beijing, said such an attitude shows double standard.

"Men want women to remain sexually as pure as ice and jade before getting married. Yet, they consider guys who fool around with women talented and romantic," she said. "This is discrimination against women."

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Leave your comment1 comments

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michaellc at 2012-03-13112.115.6.*
Virginity is not proof of a woman"s (or husband"s) fidelity or ability to be a wonderful lifelong (as opposed to depreciating) companion.

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