A debate is raging among doctors over Muslim women who demand operations to reconstitute their hymens before marriage and medical certificates stating that they are virgins.

The controversy has flared in France, where gynaecologists say that they are facing a growing number of requests from women desperate to avoid the repudiation that can follow the loss of chastity.

The phenomenon, which is also dividing doctors in other European countries, America and Africa, is denounced by critics as a sign of social regression driven by Islamic fundamentalists.

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