This Valentine’s Day, TBWA/RAAD and M.A.L.I Movement have launched specially packaged white bed sheets for virginity testing.
If that statement alarmed you, it should. For years, bed sheets have been used for “virginity testing”. The ritual is performed in Morocco and many countries across Middle East and North Africa to prove a woman’s “purity”, basing her worth on a bloodstain. During the night of the wedding, guests wait outside the room for the virginity to be publicly proved after the first intercourse. Not bleeding can be life-threatening and might include physical and verbal abuse, shunning, divorce, rape, “honour killing” and suicide, affecting the women’s fate, the fate of their family, their “honour” and safety.
The aim of the campaign by TBWA/RAAD and M.A.L.I Movement (Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms) is to debunk the hymen myth and fight the demeaning ritual. The campaign’s hero asset, the bedsheet, is packaged in a beautifully crafted box which includes a 24-pages informative booklet that describes the perils of “virginity testing” and denounces the practice. The bedsheet kit is listed for sale on an exclusive microsite, where visitors are re-directed surprisingly to a series of real-life testimonials and facts when they add the product to their carts.
The campaign aim is to trigger a positive change in virginity testing and inspire the abrogation of article 488 of the Moroccan penal code, which allows “virginity testing” on girls and women that have been victims of rape and inflicts more severe punishments against the perpetrator for raping a “virgin” woman than a “non-virgin” one.
The spokeswoman of the movement, Ibtissame Betty Lachgar, stated, “The virginity membrane is a patriarchal and archaic concept used as a mean to persecute women all over the world and has no scientific validity. Controlling women’s body and sexuality is a women’s rights violation. ‘Virginity testing’ is a humiliating practice and a sexual violence that can lead to harmful psychological – as well as physical – health consequences. This barbaric practice should be abolished immediately.”
Walid Kanaan, chief creative officer at TBWA\RAAD, added “We are proud to put our creativity at the service of a good cause and raise awareness to such a controversial issue. It is really disappointing and frustrating to still witness today, despite all of the advancements that we humans have achieved in technology, healthcare, education and science, such an unfair practice against women. There should instead be a strong focus on diversity, inclusion and gender equality.”