What do you think can be the biggest reason that most rape victims hesitate to report rape cases? One of the biggest reasons is the two-finger test. The two-finger test refers to an invasive physical examination of a woman’s vagina to check the laxity of vaginal muscles and whether the hymen is broken or not. This is a test in which the doctor puts two fingers into the woman’s vagina, and the ease with which the doctor penetrates his fingers to locate the intact hymen.
So, if the fingers slide in easily, it will imply that the woman is sexually active, but if the fingers do not slide easily, then it will imply that the hymen is intact & hence, she is a virgin. But do you really think an intact hymen is accurate proof of virginity?
Science has successfully revealed the myths of an intact hymen stating that sex doesn’t always have to be vaginal, it can also be anal or oral, or even hymen repair surgery is also an alternative available. Even after the Supreme Court attempts to stop the two-finger test & denounce its scientific invalidity, the practice still continues. This article discusses the two-finger test, its validity, Supreme Court’s rulings and many more.
What is the Two-Finger Test?
The two-finger test, carried out by a medical practitioner, includes a vaginal examination of alleged rape victims to check if she is sexually active or not by penetration of fingers. This test is highly criticised as it brings back the trauma of a woman in rape cases. The practice of the two-finger test is unscientific, and information derived from it has no bearing on rape allegations.
What Supreme Court has to say on two-finger test?
Supreme Court stated that those conducting the ‘two-finger test’ on alleged rape victims would be accused of misconduct.
In 2004, a Supreme Court bench said that “whether a woman is ‘habituated to sexual intercourse’ or ‘habitual to sexual intercourse’ is irrelevant for the purposes of determining whether the ingredients of Section 375 (rape) of the IPC are present” in a specific case.
The court had also ruled that it is really sexist to say that a woman cannot be trusted when she states that she was raped because she was sexually active.
Then, in 2013, the Supreme Court held that the two-finger test violated a woman’s right to privacy under Article 21 of Indian Constitution and asked the government to give better medical procedures to confirm sexual assault.
In 2018, the United Nations Human Rights, UN Women, & the WHO also called for a ban on the two-finger test so as to eliminate violence against women and stated it as medically not mandatory, mainly painful, & a traumatic practice that must end.
Even in 2022, the Madras High Court directed the state to ban the two-finger test.
As per the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights 1966 & the UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power 1985, the SC stated that rape survivors are authorized to legal recourse that does not re-traumatise them or infringe their physical or mental integrity and dignity.
Verma Committee on two-finger test
The Committee under former Chief Justice JS Verma was formed just after the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, which recommended stricter laws for banning the two-finger test.
“It is essential to emphasise that the size of the vaginal introitus has no bearing on a sexual assault case, and thus a test to ascertain the laxity of the vaginal muscles, basically known as the two-finger test, must not be conducted. Based on this test, no observations/ conclusions like ‘habituated to sexual intercourse’ should be made, and also this is forbidden by law.”
Still, it is unfortunate that the two-finger test continues to be conducted in India & other countries despite the fact that rape test kits are being given by the government to all medical institutions post the Verma committee recommendations.