At first I could not quite believe my eyes when I came across this story, but it is real and, as you might expect, it is all over the news. The education department of the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous, requires prospective female teachers to undergo a Pap smear to prove they are free of cancers, or to present a doctor’s certificate verifying that they are not sexually active. Until recently, it also required women to have a colposcopy, a type of visual examination used to detect disease.
Women’s rights campaign groups have denounced the requirement as a gross violation of women’s privacy and their human dignity. Ana Paula de Oliveira Castro, a public defender of women’s issues in Sao Paulo, said:
It violates women’s rights. It’s very intimate information that she has the right to keep. It’s absurd to continue with these demands.
Brazil’s national Special Secretariat for Women’s Rights said in an emailed statement that it was against any requirements that compromise the privacy of women:
The woman has the right to choose whether to take an exam that will not affect her professional life. The health inspections are intended to ensure, beyond technical ability, the physical and mental ability of candidates to keep their jobs for an average of 25 years.
The issue came to prominence this week after a news site interviewed a 27-year-old female applicant who said she was ashamed to ask a doctor for a note stating she was still a virgin to escape the other tests. The bar association of Sao Paulo called the practice unconstitutional. A religious group — Catholics for the Right to Choose — also complained, stating in a statement: “We are living in the Middle Ages!”.
A similar incident occurred last year, when in the northeastern state of Bahia female candidates for police jobs were also required to take the tests or to prove that their hymens were not torn. The government later asked that all such tests be eliminated. I hope that they act more quickly in this case. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Employers in the city of Sao Paulo, pictured, force public sector workers to undergo invasive health checks.
Image source: Wikimedia.
2. The Brazilian state of Bahia caused outrage last year when female police candidates were forced to do tests to prove their hymens were not torn.
Image source: Wikimedia.
And here is the video:
Source: The Seattle Times.
Share this story with your friends below and let’s hope that the Brazilian authorities will quickly come to their senses.