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

 

Background

  • This is not the first time the SC has expressed its disapproval with the two-finger test. The Centres guidelines on examining victims of sexual assault also forbid it, but the practice continues. In 2014, the Union health ministry released a document titled ‘GUIDELINES & PROTOCOLS Medico-legal care for survivors/victims of sexual violence’.
  • The so-called test is based on the incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing could be further from the truth – a womans sexual history is wholly immaterial while adjudicating whether the accused raped her,” the court said.

 

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 Organisation (WHO) on dealing with sexual assault victims says, “There is no place for virginity (or two-finger) testing; it has no scientific validity.”

 

Past observations of the court

  • In May 2013, the apex court had held that the two-finger test violates a womans 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.