Two-Finger Test (09 November 2022)
The Supreme Court has stated that people who perform the "two-finger test" on alleged rape victims will be held accountable for their actions.
The Two-Finger Test -
- A medical practitioner will do the two-finger test on her vagina to determine whether she is habitual to sexual intercourse.
- The practice is unscientific and provides no conclusive information. Furthermore, such "information" does not influence a rape allegation.
- A woman who has been sexually attacked is subjected to a medical examination to determine her health and medical needs and collect evidence.
- According to a World Health Organization (WHO) guide on dealing with sexual assault victims, "virginity (or 'two-finger') testing has no scientific basis."
Observation of the Supreme Court:
- A Supreme Court panel declared in 2004 that "whether a woman is 'habituated to sexual intercourse or 'habitual to sexual intercourse is immaterial for assessing whether the components of Section 375 (rape) of the IPC are present in a specific case."
- The court noted that it is patriarchal and sexist to suggest that a woman cannot be trusted when she claims she was raped just because she is sexually active.
- The Supreme Court ruled in May 2013 that the two-finger test violated a woman's right to privacy and ordered the government to establish better medical methods for confirming the sexual assault.
- Invoking both the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power from 1985 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights from 1966, the Supreme Court declared that rape survivors have a right to legal recourse that does not re-traumatize them or violate their physical or mental integrity and dignity.
- The Madras High Court ordered the state to suspend the two-finger test in April 2022.
What are the government's guidelines?
- Following the 2013 Justice Verma Committee recommendation on criminal law modifications for a speedier trial and more substantial penalty in sexual assault cases, The Union Health Ministry issued specific instructions for the medical evaluation of sexual assault victims in early 2014.
- In accordance with the recommendations, the 'two-finger test should not be used to establish rape/sexual assault.
- The rules say that any medical examination requires the agreement of a rape victim (or her guardian if she is a juvenile or mentally incompetent). Medical care cannot be withheld even if the victim does not grant permission.
- These, however, are only suggestions and are not legally obligatory.
The future Perspectives-
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's instructions should be distributed to private and public hospitals.
- Workshops for health practitioners should be arranged to prevent the test from being performed on rape survivors.
- The issue could be resolved by extensive awareness and training of doctors and police officers.