TWO East Lancashire MPs are calling on the government to ban so-called ‘virginity tests’.

Burnley Tory backbencher Antony Higginbotham and his Hyndburn colleague Sara Britcliffe have joined a cross-party coalition of MPs seeking to outlaw them the practice of hymen ‘repair’ surgery.

So-called ‘virginity tests’ and the practice of hymen ‘repair’ surgery - or hymenoplasty - are both currently legal.

They are carried out by doctors in the UK to ‘check’ or ‘restore’ the virginity of a woman, often prior to an arranged marriage.

Mr Higginbotham and Miss Britcliffe are among 51 MPs signing new clauses one and two to the Health and Care Bill to ban the two practices which was tabled by North-West Durham Tory MP Richard Holden who was raised in the Ribble Valley.

The legislation is currently going through Parliament.

Mr Higginbotham said: “Women and girls deserve to grow up free from notions of ‘breaking their womanhood’ so they ‘bleed on their wedding night’.

"These traumatic practices have no basis in medical science, harm women and girls and perpetuate dangerous myths of ‘purity’.

“We must act now to stop both ‘virginity testing’ and hymen ‘repair’ surgery.

"That’s why I am backing new clauses one and two to the Health and Care Bill as I call on the government to end this violence against women and girls for good”.

Mr Holden said: “I am delighted to have received the support of Mr Higginbotham and Miss Britcliffe for new clauses one and two.

"The Health and Social Care Bill is the best opportunity to ban these oppressive practices once and for all.

"It is great to see cross-party work, alongside charities and health professionals to tackle violence against women and girls.”

Other MPs backing the amendment include former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Women and Equalities Select Committee chair Caroline Nokes, Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts, Lib-Dem Sarah Olney, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding Jess Phillips, Women’s Health All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair Jackie Doyle-Price and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives said: “We are very concerned that women are either being coerced into having these procedures or feel pressurised into having them so they can bleed during sex and can demonstrate they are a virgin on their wedding night.

“We both want to see both virginity testing and hymenoplasty banned in the UK."