Young Arab women wait in an upmarket medical clinic for an operation that will not only change their lives, but quite possibly save it. Yet the operation is a matter of choice and not necessity. It costs about 2,000 euros (£1,700) and carries very little risk.
The clinic is not in Dubai or Cairo, but in Paris. And the surgery they are waiting for is to restore their virginity. (…)
Noor is a trendy professional who works in Damascus. He’s fairly representative of young Syrian men in a secular society. But although Noor says he believes in equality for women, underneath the liberal facade lies a deep-rooted conservatism.
“I know girls who went through this restoration and they were caught out on their wedding night by their husbands,” he says. “They realised they weren’t virgins. Even if society accepts such a thing, I would still refuse to marry her.”