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Two-Finger Test

Context:

The Supreme Court said that those conducting the ‘two-finger test’ on alleged rape victims will be held guilty of misconduct.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the ‘two-finger test’?
  2. SC’s earlier comments on the test
  3. What the government’s guidelines say?

What is the ‘two-finger test’?

  • A woman who has been sexually assaulted undergoes a medical examination for ascertaining her health and medical needs, collection of evidence, etc.
  • The two-finger test, carried out by a medical practitioner, involves the examination of her vagina to check if she is habituated to sexual intercourse.
  • The practice is unscientific and does not provide any definite information. Moreover, such ‘information’ has no bearing on an allegation of rape.
  • A handbook released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on dealing with sexual assault victims says, “There is no place for virginity (or ‘two-finger’) testing; it has no scientific validity.”

SC’s earlier comments on the test

  • In May 2013, the apex court had held that the two-finger test violates a woman’s right to privacy and asked the government to provide better medical procedures to confirm sexual assault.
  • Invoking the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights 1966 and the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power 1985, the apex court said rape survivors are entitled to legal recourse that does not re-traumatise them or violate their physical or mental integrity and dignity.

What the government’s guidelines say?

  • In 2014, the Union health ministry released a document titled ‘GUIDELINES & PROTOCOLS Medico-legal care for survivors/victims of sexual violence’.
  • The guidelines are clear about the two-finger test, saying, “Per-Vaginum examination commonly referred to by lay persons as ‘two-finger test’, must not be conducted for establishing rape/sexual violence and the size of the vaginal introitus [opening] has no bearing on a case of sexual violence. Per vaginum examination can be done only in adult women when medically indicated.”
  • In fact, the guidelines state that a rape victim’s consent (or her guardian’s, if she is minor/mentally disabled) is necessary for any medical examination. Even if the consent is not provided, the victim cannot be denied medical treatment.
  • However, these are guidelines and are not legally binding.

-Source: Indian Express


 

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