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The aftermath of rape
What is The Two-finger test?
The two-finger test is done to determine whether a woman is a virgin. The test involves a doctor inserting fingers in a rape victim’s vagina to determine its “laxity” and decide if she is “habituated to sex.” Defense lawyers often use this evidence to discredit the testimony of unmarried rape victims, who are dismissed as “loose women.” It involves an inspection of a woman’s hymen, on the assumption that her hymen can only be torn as a result of sexual intercourse. This assumption, it has been scientifically established, is faulty, as the hymen can be stretched or torn during physical activities like cycling or swimming too. The test has been ruled out by the WHO as an obsolete criteria for sexual assault examination. In September 2010, Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to ban the degrading two-finger test for rape and respect the survivor’s rights to health, privacy and dignity.
The two finger test humiliates the girl’s dignity.
The Victim: Seventeen-year-old Radhika* from Mumbai, who was kidnapped, confined for two days and raped repeatedly by a man from her neighbourhood, wasn’t spared the humiliation of what is known as the two-finger test. Her medical examination was carried out by a male doctor who inserted two fingers into her vagina in the presence of a woman police constable and a member of CEHAT (Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes), an NGO. The two-finger test and hymen examination of a rape survivor form the core, and, in fact, in many cases, is the only medico-legal response in a rape case in India.
The second violation :
When Radhika was taken for her medical examination to a Mumbai public hospital, two days after she had been raped, a member of CEHAT was present and this is her report:
“A nurse, Radhika and I were present in the room. The nurse asked Radhika to remove her salwar and sleep on the examination table. The nurse spread the girl’s legs and called the doctor in. Two doctors were present during the examination. The samples were collected by a doctor who was wearing gloves. He examined the vulva and took a vulval swab. Then he spread the labia to examine the external opening of the vagina. He found fresh tears and asked the other doctor to note them. Then he inserted two fingers into the vaginal opening and noted that the two fingers were going in easily. The girl twitched in pain. He wiped his fingers on a few slides, possibly to make a smear. Things like what would happen during the examination and why these were necessary were not explained to Radhika. No examination of the other parts of her body was done either even though she had injuries all over her body.”
The pointlessness of it:
As far back as in 1992, a sub-committee was set up by the National Commission for Women (NCW) to recommend changes to sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) dealing with rape. Decades later, with the draft criminal law (amendment bill) still under discussion, Kirti Singh, legal convenor, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), and Supreme Court advocate, who was the convenor of the subcommittee that demanded changes, says, “The two-finger test doesn’t establish anything. It is outdated, irrelevant and meaningless, and only increases the prejudice which exists against a survivor.”
“Besides,” says Supreme Court advocate and women’s rights activist, Brinda Grover, “we are not here to comment on the survivor’s private life, which is protected under Section 21 of the Indian Constitution. The test is unwarranted; it is not a crime in this country to have consensual sex. Other examinations, including a DNA test, could be used to find evidence.”
If Alternative exist so why they are taking this test:
In rape cases, biological evidence such as semen, blood, vaginal secretions, saliva, vaginal epithelial cells, are crucial. Perhaps India could take a leaf out of the rulebook of other countries while collecting evidence in rape cases. In several countries, like the US and the UK, a sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit—a specific set of items for gathering evidence—is used in rape investigations. DNA evidence from the victim’s body is collected by a trained professional known as sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). Medical attention is also paid to treating injuries, testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.