Since the 1950s, Tunisia has been considered the most progressive country in the Arab world in terms of women's rights, and politicians enshrined gender equality in the new constitution adopted in January.
Demographic changes have reinforced personal freedoms, with sex outside marriage increasingly common and more people opting to marry later.
But conservative attitudes persist, and for many Tunisian men marrying a virgin remains a priority, hence the rising demand for hymen restorations.
"The number of women resorting to hymenoplasty or hymenorrhaphy (as the operations are known) has gone up a lot in recent years," says Moncef Kamel, a doctor in the southern island of Djerba.
The women he operates on -- around 100 each year, aged between 18 and 45 -- come with their faces hidden behind a scarf and dark glasses, "have a normal, active sex life", and generally hail from working-class backgrounds.
It happens every April ahead of the summer marriage season, says Tunisian gynecologist Faouzi Hajri - desperate brides-to-be beg for surgery to make them "virgins" again for their wedding night.
It is easy for a woman to have her hymen surgically reconstructed in Tunisia.The routine hospital operation takes around 30 minutes and costs from 400 to 700 euros (0 to 0), with a less permanent version needing to be done within a week of the wedding, while the stitches hold. Meet thousands of fun, attractive, Tunisia men and Tunisia women for FREE. Click on any of the cities in Tunisia below to meet members looking to chat with you. Join our site and meet single Tunisia men and single Tunisia women looking to meet quality singles for fun and dating in Tunisia.
"It's a taboo subject, which explains why there's a lack of official statistics," says Doctor Hajri.The Tunis-based gynecologist says he also treats about 100 women annually, including from neighboring Libya and Algeria.