NEW DELHI — Following a severe backlash from women’s rights activists, the Delhi government withdrew its circular on subjecting rape survivors to the invasive ‘Two-Finger Test’ as a procedure to find evidence of sexual assault.
Describing the test as “regressive and outrageous,” Kavita Krishnan, general-secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, said the Aam Aadmi Party-government had displayed a “complete lack of understanding of the basis of the Two-Finger Test,” which is used to determine the sexual history of the woman.
Referring to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) in 2014, Krishnan said, “You cannot insert fingers into the vagina for the purpose of checking elasticity to find out whether or not she is ‘habituated to sex.'”
Krishnan told HuffPost India that withdrawing the test by the Delhi government was not enough, and all state governments needed to ensure that all doctors were following the MOHFW guidelines on medico-legal care in a time-bound manner.
“Women are still being yelled at, slapped around, and humiliated on the examination table,” she said.
In guidelines issued on May 31, the Delhi government said, “To do away with this essential pelvic examination would amount to incomplete assessment of the survivor, which will ultimately result in injustice and low conviction rates,” NDTV reported.
The guidelines also said the test could only be done after taking the “informed consent” of the rape survivor.
In 2013, the Supreme Court said that two-finger test is a violation of the survivor’s right to privacy, and the results of procedure did not provide evidence of “consent” on part of the survivor.
Human Rights Watch has described the “Two Finger Test” as an “archaic and degrading” procedure. “These findings perpetuate false and damaging stereotypes of rape survivors as “loose” women. Defense attorneys use the findings to challenge the credibility, character, and the lack of consent of the survivors,” HRW has said.
Krishnan explained the MOHFW guidelines provided a procedure for a detailed check for the vaginal areas – just not to determine past sexual history. “A doctor can’t say that if three fingers are going in that means a woman has a lot of sex,” she said.