The Gujarat high court has held that the two-finger test to check the virginity of rape victims is unconstitutional. It directed the trial courts and doctors to bear this in mind because “it violates the right of the victim of sexual assault to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity”.
The ‘two-finger test’, also known as the PV (Per Vaginal), refers to an intrusive physical examination of a woman’s vagina to figure out the laxity of vaginal muscles and whether the hymen is distensible or not. The HC said that the Indian Evidence Act does not permit character assassination of a witness and two-finger test is also “one of the most unscientific methods of examination used in the context of sexual assault and has not forensic value”. The HC observed so on the aspect of consent by a rape survivor in a “unique appeal” filed by the state government. The court convicted one Rameshchandra Panchal from Kadi town for rape nearly 25 years after he was exonerated by a trial court “by mistake” in 1995.
The victim was a minor, but the court by mistake counted that she was above 16 and recorded Panchal’s acquittal on the basis that the sexual relations between Panchal and the victim were with her consent. Panchal, however, was punished with a seven-year jail term for abducting the girl under sections 363 and 366 of IPC.
However, after recording the acquittal, the sessions court at Mirzapur rural court campus realized that the victim was below 16 and her consent was immaterial, and the offence amounted to statutory rape.