Explained || SC banned two-finger test on rape survivors: Experts observation, scientific validity, and origin

Lashing out at the patriarchal mindset prevailing in society, Supreme Court on Monday banned the two-finger test on rape, and sexual assault survivors in its most clinical words, stating any such action in future will be regarded as a gross violation of misconduct.

“The so-called test is based on the incident assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing could be further from the truth – a woman’s sexual history is wholly immaterial while adjudicating whether the accused raped her,” a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said.

Experts view:

On the request of anonymity, a few experts in the business told The Quotes that the test is conducted to examine if the victim indulged into sexual intercourse. “The test includes an inspection of the hymen, as it can be torn only if the woman has had any sexual intercourse. This test is used to perform on rape or sexual assault survivors,” informed the expert who did the test couple of times on rape survivors.

Meanwhile, Dr Suman Lal, Director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Max, Gurgaon, hailed the Supreme Court’s decision stating that the two-finger test was completely against the dignity of a woman or a girl.

Utter nonsense. Two finger test is being done to examine whether the girl was sexually active. How can that be a basis for evaluating the fact that she was raped? This test came from a patriarchal mindset in the society that prevailed over the years.”

There were numerous incidents in which I have expressed my apprehension with this test on various forums, and I am glad that Supreme Court has taken the right decision and taken a step towards the betterment of the society,” said Dr. Suman Lal, Director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Max, Gurgaon.

How is the test conducted, and what is its scientific validity?

The two-finger test is done by a doctor, who inserts two fingers into the vaginal canal of the rape survivor to check the laxity of her muscles and determine if she has been sexually active. According to the handbook released by the World Health Organisation on dealing with sexual assault victims stated that there is no place for virginity (or two-finger) testing.

The case which prompted SC’s observation:

The historic observation from Supreme Court came after restoring the conviction and sentencing of a man who allegedly raped and murdered a minor girl in Jharkhand in November 2004. The man set the girl on fire after she tried to resist his sexual assault attempt. Later, she was subjected to a two-finger test despite severe burn injuries.

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The bench further observed that “whether a woman is ‘habituated to sexual intercourse or habitual to sexual intercourse is irrelevant for determining whether the ingredients of Section 375 (rape) of the IPC are present in a particular case. It is patriarchal and sexist to suggest that a woman cannot be believed when she states that she was raped merely because she is sexually active.”

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