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'Virginity Checks' For Brides-To-Be Attract Feminist Protestors In Georgia, Tbilisi (VIDEO)

01/08/2013 14:14 BST | Updated 08/08/2013 08:13 BST

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Feminists have staged protests outside a clinic in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, which reportedly performs examinations in order to issue "virginity certificates" for brides-to-be.

According to local channel Imedi TV, the service is offered for 175 lari (£69) or twice as much for a faster result.

It adds the majority of women are brought to the National Forensic Bureau clinic in the former Soviet state by relatives – most commonly their future mother-in-laws.

virginity tests georgia

Feminists protest at the National Forensic Bureau in Tbilisi, Georgia

The clinic is rumoured to perform up to 200 virginity checks each year. According to IBI Times, the inspections also look for signs of cancer and other ailments related to the female reproductive system.

"In many cases, they leave very happy when they find out the truth, that is, if the truth is acceptable to them," Imedi TV quoted the bureau's medical expert Eka Chavieslshvill as saying.

Although the clinic's own staff were quoted in the report, the independent practice has denied it issues such certificates, and insists it only carries out examinations under court orders, for example to establish whether rape or sexual violence has taken place, Euro News reports.

But protester Etuna Nogaidely told ITN: “Although the staff insisted that they do not issue such documents, using my own logic, I can say that if they work with individual clients, logically they can issue some kind of document after such a test.”

The rally was organised by the Independent Georgian Feminists group, which accuses the clinic of encouraging the "harmful tradition" of considering an intact hymen as "an indicator of a woman's chastity," Ria Novosti writes.

The preservation of virginity before marriage for women is deeply entrenched in the Orthodox Christian eastern European country.

But the same cannot be said for men.

"We have two morals in this country: one for men and another for women," Tbilisi State University Gender Studies Professor Nino Javakhishvili told EurasiaNet.

Of the taboo commonly referred to by Georgians as "the virginity institute", he added: "Premarital sex is not only tolerated, but even encouraged for men, while it is frowned upon for women."