CAIRO: An Egyptian member of Parliament is facing ridicule for saying that universities should perform virginity tests on female students.
Ilhamy Agina reportedly told an Egyptian newspaper on Thursday that virginity should be a prerequisite for admission to university.
He argued that it would help to end the practice of unregistered “customary” marriages that appeal to Egyptian youths who cannot afford formal weddings.
“Any girl who enters university must be examined to prove she is a maiden,” Agina reportedly told the Youm 7 newspaper.
His comments sparked derision on social media.
“Didn’t I tell you the bottom is still far, and worse is to come?” rights lawyer and dissident Gamal Eid wrote on Twitter.
“We have a member of parliament obsessed with sex,” wrote liberal dissident and journalist Khaled Dawoud.
Agina told AFP on Friday his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he has decided to boycott the media.
“People have been attacking me since yesterday and they’re upset and such. I’ve decided not to deal with the media,” he said.
“I did not make a demand, I made a suggestion. There’s a big difference between a demand and a suggestion.”
He said the Youm 7 reporter had asked him about the government’s role in ending customary marriages, so he suggested the virginity tests.
“I said, well, it’s not the government’s right to ask a girl or a man whether they’ve had a customary marriage,” he said.
“But maybe, maybe… just as a suggestion that may or may not be implemented: the government could tell university hospitals to conduct drugs and virginity tests.
“And then the university can tell the student’s parents,” he added.
It was not the first time Agina has made controversial remarks.
He previously said he supported female genital mutilation, which is illegal but is still widely practiced in Egypt.