Reports that a group of 450 Indian brides-to-be were made to undergo a virginity and pregnancy test ahead of a mass wedding, has prompted criticism from a major women's advocacy group.
Last week, the group of women were preparing for a ceremony in a village in Madhya Pradesh, when they were apparently forced to take the test. The BBC reported that several of the women said it was shameful and humiliating. State officials deny however that virginity tests took place, rather these were pregnancy tests to ensure the marriage was a genuine one rather than a sham to get free wedding gifts worth £70.
Of the 450 women, nine were found to be pregnant.
"Such a shameful act where girls had to reportedly undergo tests to prove their chastity to avail the government's financial aid were sinful and could not be tolerated in a sane society."
Girija Vyas, India's National Commission for Women
Mass weddings may seem like a strange concept but for poor women in India, it is a government scheme in Madhya Pradesh that helps women to get married without the constraint of dowry. It was started in 2006 by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to help the poor as well as other disenfranchised women in India such as the widowed and disabled.