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Madras High Court Directs State Govt To Ban Two-Finger Test on Rape Victims

As per the WHO, the two-finger test cannot prove that a woman has had a vaginal intercourse or not.

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India
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Edited By :Tejas Harad

The Madras High Court on Friday, 22 April, directed the state government to ban the practice of two-finger test on victims of sexual offences with immediate effect.

A high court bench of Justices R Subramanian and N Satish Kumar noted that despite the Supreme Court judgement, which held that the test violates the rape survivors' right to privacy, physical and mental integrity, and dignity, the test is being used in cases involving sexual offences, particularly on minor victims.

"In view of the above judicial pronouncements, we have no doubt that the two finger test cannot be permitted to be continued. Therefore, we issue a direction to the State Government to ban the practice of two finger test on victims of sexual offences by the medical professionals forthwith," the court observed.

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The court passed the judgement when it was disposing an appeal filed by an accused convicted under Section 5(l) read with Section 6(1) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code.

What Is the Two-Finger Test? 

A "per vaginal" or two-finger test is an explicitly intrusive physical examination wherein a doctor inserts two fingers inside the vagina of a rape survivor to check if the hymen is intact or not.

It examines the laxity of vaginal muscles in order to determine if the woman has engaged in or has been subjected to sexual intercourse – a proof of virginity. In some cases, it is done by inspecting the size of a vaginal opening and for tears in the hymen.

As per World Health Organization (WHO), neither of the methods in the two-finger test can prove that a woman has had a vaginal intercourse or not.

The technique is practised on the assumption that a hymen can be torn because of sexual intercourse and that the appearance of female genitalia can determine the sexual history of a woman.

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Why Is the Test Controversial?

The virginity testing is a patriarchal idea, which transgresses ethics, ethical medical practices, as well as the privacy of the victim.

For decades, however, the two-finger test was the only method of confirming rape. The fact that the test once enjoyed legal status in India, means the law once conformed to the sexist idea of virginity as a 'virtue,' demanded from unmarried women in India.

In addition to being medically uncalled-for, it is exclusively performed on women, mostly without their consent.

The practice is rooted in gender and power inequalities, wherein a woman's body is a subject of archaic ideas and/or can be regulated as per men's desires.

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