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Tbilisi doctors report an increase in requests for hymenoplasty.
Most of Kuzanov’s patients opt for the $400 procedure, which restores virginity for only a few days. For those seeking a permanent effect, the price is $1,000.
Patients are generally in their early 20s, Kuzanov said. The surgery carries little risk and normally takes 30 to 40 minutes.
“It’s a simple procedure,” Kuzanov said, adding, “People come for different reasons. Some come before their marriage and others come because their parents force them.”
A slew of different factors explain the demand for the surgery. While Georgia has bested its neighbors in many respects, the country is still under the heel of rigid traditions and an omnipotent church. Young women and men also face pressure from society, family and peers.
Psychologist Nana Gogichashvili explained why women have the surgery: “It is an unconscious feeling of guilt. … Guilt for doing something that goes against traditions, religion, your family and guys’ expectations.”
She said that young people experience an internal conflict — a clash between themselves and society.
“Having sex before marriage is considered a step towards modernity and Europe but inside they are very traditional. They want to become modern but at the end traditions prevail and they have the surgery,” she said. Under the veneer of open-mindedness there is deep-rooted conservatism, she added.
Sartania and Bibineishvili are not thrilled with the idea of the surgery. However, they said that if they lose their virginity to one guy and later fall in love with another, the “possibility of a surgery exists” if they feel pressured to uphold tradition.
Sartania admitted struggling with society’s expectations.
“For society not being a virgin is out of the question,” she said.