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1st November 2022 (7 Topics)

‘Two-finger test’ of Rape Victims stating is ‘Patriarchal’ and ‘sexist’: Supreme Court

Context

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has declared that any person conducting the invasive ‘two-finger’ or vaginal test on rape or sexual assault survivors will be found guilty of misconduct, as checking the virginity of the rape victim or whether she is ‘sexually active’ or not, is irrelevant to fact whether she was ‘raped’ or not.

About

What is a Two-Finger Test?

  • The ‘two-finger test’ or ‘per Vaginal’ is a regressive procedure that involves the insertion of two fingers into a person's vagina to gauge the laxity of vaginal muscles, thereby determining her 'virginity’.
  • Doctors also check how habituated the woman who has been raped is to sexual intercourse and her sexual history.

Patriarchal norms in the society for medical examinations of Rape Victims:

  • The Indian Evidence act: In terms of Section 53A in the Indian Evidence Act, the evidence of a victim’s character or her previous sexual experience with any person shall not be relevant to the issue of consent or the quality of consent in the prosecution of sexual offenses.
  • Determining the Virginity of a Woman: Determining a women’s virginity as evidence against the character of the woman is a patriarchal norm and a societal barrier for Women.

Impacts:

On Rape Victim

On SocietyOne

On Family of the Victim

  • Re-victimises are-traumatizes women
  • Affront to her dignity
  • Character assault
  • Harassment of the rape survivor by police officials.
  • Allow people to judge the character of the women/Rape victim.
  • Patriarchal norms to get strengthened.
  • Due to societal pressure can blame the victim for the act/Rape happened.
  • Do not accept her as earlier.

What is Supreme Court's take on the issue?

  • In May 2013, the Supreme Court banned the two-finger test on rape victims on the grounds that it violates their right to privacy. The court had asked the government to provide better medical procedures in order to confirm sexual assault.
  • According to the Apex court, is faulty logic behind the test was that a woman cannot be believed when she said she was raped merely for the reason that she was sexually active.
  • This test has no scientific basis and neither proves nor disproves allegations of rape. It instead re-victimizes women who may have been sexually assaulted.

Suggestive measures:

  • Directions to Central and State governments: Ensure that the guidelines formulated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are circulated to all government and private hospitals;
  • To Conduct workshops for health providers: to communicate the appropriate procedure to be adopted while examining survivors of sexual assault and rape; and
  • Exclusion from the Medical studies: Review the curriculum in medical schools with a view to ensuring that the two-finger test examination is not prescribed as one of the procedures to be adopted while examining survivors of sexual assault and rape.
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