Patna, Aug 3: A virgin is a girl who is unmarried, says Bihar's Health Minister Mangal Pandey in a bizarre comment that was meant to justify a government hospital form that requires doctors and other staff to declare their virginity or the number of times they have been married.
"I have looked up 'virgin' in the dictionary. It means kanya, kunwari (girl, unmarried) Punya Bhumi...I don't see anything objectionable in this," said Mr Pandey on Thursday.
He was responding to the inexplicable "marital declaration" form circulated at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Patna, which appears to cross the professional line.
Recruits have been asked to declare whether they are bachelors or widowers or virgins, whether they are married and have only "one wife living" or whether they have more than one wife. Women have to testify whether they are married to a person with a wife or without.
The minister said he had been told that the form follows the same format as the premier AIIMS hospital in Delhi. "It has been a rule for 34 years for medical staff to submit the declaration," he told reporters.
Manish Mandal, the Medical Superintendent of the hospital, said: "Rules are made by the government and constitution. If they change the word, we will too."
The virginity declaration, he said, was about a person's marital status and next of kin.
"Virgin doesn't have anything to do with virginity but marital status. If a person joins in and then dies, who would be the claimant?" Perhaps, he conceded, respondents "should have been asked whether they are married or not...that would have been sober."
The comments have been ridiculed in tweets that guessed that the word the form really meant to use was "single" and not "virgin".
"It is embarrassing for all of us to say anything," a state health official was quoted as telling the news agency.
Oops! Bihar hospital asks doctors to declare their ‘virginity’?