Welcome to Britain. Undress From the Waist Down, Please.
In the 1970s, women from the Indian subcontinent who migrated to the UK to join their spouses were routinely subjected to virginity testing examinations. A poet and a filmmaker from Bristol, UK have made a short film, Borders, about the women's experience.
Welcome to Britain. Undress From the Waist Down, Please.
By E Mizon / shaguftakiqbal.com
Aug 26, 2015

In the 1970s women from the Indian subcontinent who migrated to the UK to join their spouses were routinely subjected to virginity testing examinations. Initially, the Home Office denied this ever took place, but eventually admitted that this practice had been carried out on only three women, to verify if they were 'a bonafide virgin or fiance' and to confirm their immigration status. 

The exact number of women who were subjected to this procedure is unknown, however, it is estimated that over 80 women had experienced this invasive examination. The story was initially covered by the Guardian in 1979; in 2011, documents were uncovered which showed that the practice, banned after the Guardian first broke the story, was enacted on far more women than previously thought. Women who were subjected to the practice were made to sign a consent form, under threat of being sent back to the country, and were examined by a male doctor. 

"A man doctor came in. I asked to be seen by a lady doctor but they said 'no'...He was wearing rubber gloves and took some medicine out of a tube and put it on some cotton and inserted it into me. He said he was deciding whether I was pregnant now or had been pregnant before. I said that he could see that without doing anything to me, but he said there was no need to get shy.

"I have been feeling very bad mentally ever since. I was very embarrassed and upset. I had never had a gynaecological examination before."

The documents further revealed that women had been required to be bare chested for an x-ray, and that subsequent to the incident becoming public, were offered £500 to remain silent and to ensure they did not sue. No official apologies or admittance of wrongdoing were offered by the government, only the pretense that this procedure had only been performed on not nearly as many women as it had.

In 2015, poet Shagufta K Iqbal and filmmaker Elizabeth Mizon began work on a short film about the examinations, based on a poem by Iqbal (who makes a brief appearance in the film.) The short features Adibah Iqbal and Ed Rapley, and the shoot would not have been possible without the dedication and skilled work of DoP Jason Baker, sound technician Ben Harvey and runner Joseph Sawdon, who helped bring the story to the screen.

The film, titled Borders, will premiere on October 10th at the Bristol Radical Film Festival 2015 in their 'Contemporary Political Shorts' programme, and is an official selection for the London Short Film Festival 2016.

See the trailer here:

Borders - Trailer (Shagufta K Iqbal & Elizabeth Mizon) from Elizabeth Mizon on Vimeo.

4.0 ·
1


Love Films For Action? 

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information and perspectives essential to creating a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

If you feel like you get some value from this library, consider making a donation today. Every little bit helps.

Trending Today
Black Friday Is Buy Nothing Day: Here Are 10 Films to Inspire a Joyous Shopping-Free Holiday
Tim Hjersted4,550 views today ·
This Incredible Animated Short Film Says So Much Without Saying a Word
13 min4,230 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min1,891 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley1,449 views today ·
The Canary Effect: Kill the Indian, Save the Man (2006)
63 min1,369 views today ·
Profit Is Theft: It Sounds Absurd but Here's Why
Tim Hjersted1,327 views today ·
In the Absence of the Village, Mothers Struggle Most
Beth Berry917 views today ·
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad914 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick667 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
Welcome to Britain. Undress From the Waist Down, Please.