Brazilian Teachers Must Offer Proof of Virginity or Submit to STD Test to Make the Cut

A female hoping to get a job in public education in São Paulo, Brazil faces some outrageous obstacles. Since at least 2012, women who want to be teachers in Brazil must submit proof of virginity or undergo a gynecological exam.

These tests aim to detect certain cancers, and are part of a series of tests meant to uphold the state health standard. Even though the education department claims that the exams help ensure that candidates are in good health so they will not have to take extended or frequent absences from work, women’s rights advocates are denouncing the practice as an invasion of privacy.

Women’s rights public defendant Ana Paula de Oliveira Castro said to the Associated Press, “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 also stated "The woman has the right to choose whether to take an exam that will not affect her professional life."

However, the public management department for São Paulo upholds that the exams are in compliance with state law and the recommendations of the Health Ministry. The department released a statement saying “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 Health Ministry seems to have overlooked the fact that some types of reproductive cancers aren’t related to sexual activity, and that their requirements are outrageously invasive. Even though male teaching candidates over 40 are required to get a prostate exam, it appears as though consequences of their sexual history are never factored into their overall exams.

Before you give Brazil the benefit of doubt, know that this isn’t the first time similar incidents have become controversial. Last year, female police candidates in Bahia, Brazil were asked to take similar tests or prove that their hymens were not torn. After angry protests to the practice, the government asked that the test be eliminated. Here’s hoping that the same thing happens in São Paulo.

Image: Jinx!/Flickr