Islamabad: Living as they do in a conservative, Muslim-dominated society where pre-marital sex is a religious taboo, many Pakistani women are going under the knife for hymen reconstruction surgeries to regain their lost virginity before marriage.
Just look up advertisements in English newspapers or websites or the walls of shops on busy street corners in cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, offering women a chance to shroud their past with a recreated hymen - and you`ll know.
For instance, the website www.hopepk.com. offers help for a number of sexual diseases, and vaginoplasty and hymen repair are at the top. Post an online inquiry or call up 0092-3234195732 - a cell phone number with the Pakistani ISD code and 323 refers to Warid Telecom phone service.
The address of the hospital where the operation will be performed is divulged only when the customer is given a date. The website says it has two doctors - Sarfaraz Ahmed, a graduate of King Edward Medical College, Lahore, and Yasmin Sarfaraz, a gynaecologist and a member of Royal College Ob/Gyn London, who performs hymenoplasty.
"The result is an immediate decrease in the size of vaginal muscles, resulting in more friction during intercourse," claims the website.
Classified as cosmetic surgery, hymenoplasty was exported from Britain to Pakistan, where many women have been divorced instantly for not conforming to the notion of the blushing, untouched spouse.
Re-virgination, as the process is also known, is performed at $500, or Pakistani Rs.40,000, and is usually resorted to by upper class women in cities.
Doctor Syed Rizwanul Haq says he runs www.noorclinic.com that has loads of content on sex and related problems available in Hindi and Urdu. Among other things, it offers e-books on sex.
Then there is the Nasim Fertility Clinic in the middle-class locality of Johar Town in Lahore.
When a journalist seeking to gather details about the surgery called its owner Farooq Nasim, the doctor first refused to have even heard of hymenoplasty. But then the journalist took help from a woman colleague, Nida (name changed), to help him breach Nasim`s wall of caution.
Nida after fixing up the appointment walked into the clinic. "We charge only Rs.40,000; abroad, the operation costs $2,000 or more," the doctor told Nida.
It is not necessary even to register names. And such benevolence helps pull in customers. Nasim claims to have restored 300 hymens in the last two years.
Likewise when Nida called Javed of the www.noorclinic.com, he asked her to meet him at the Bio-Test Clinic, 681-Shadman I, Lahore.
After undergoing stringent security and identity checks, she was taken to his office. He was candid. "We have to be cautious because ours is a conservative society. I don`t think the maulvis (clerics) have any inkling about this phenomenon; otherwise they would have kicked up a ruckus."
He said he had performed hymenoplasty on 100 girls in the last two years; the number being relatively less because he advertises only on the website.