Delhi Government Clarifies Order on Controversial Two-Finger Test in Rape Cases

Delhi Government Clarifies Order on Controversial Two-Finger Test in Rape Cases

Activists have held that the two-finger vaginal examination is traumatic for the rape survivor and helps the perpetrator get away. (Representational Image)

New Delhi:

The Delhi Government today said that its circular on the two-finger test - a vaginal test for rape survivors -- that generated much controversy, had been "misinterpreted". Health Minister Saytendra Jain said the government would prefer to clarify that the test was "banned for sexual assault victims".

"It is advised that medical professionals should nor perform the finger test unless it is medically indicated for only treatment purpose," Mr Jain told reporters.

The circular was sent out on May 31 by the Health and Family Welfare Department.

The Union government had banned the test last year, after the Supreme Court held in 2013 that it violates a woman's right to privacy, and asked the government to provide better medical procedures to confirm sexual assault.

In the so-called "two-finger test", doctors probe the vagina to determine if a hymen is present and to try to determine if the vagina is lax, which is taken as evidence that the woman routinely has sex and thus consented to intercourse. Often, the doctor is male.

Activists and lawyers have for long criticised the test as unscientific and unnecessary and one that subjects the complainant to further trauma and humiliation and often allows a rapist to get away.

The test was banned by the Department of Health Research and the Indian Council of Medical Research in a new set of guidelines issued in 2014.

In January 2013, the Justice Verma committee - set up to frame stricter anti-rape laws after the brutal gang-rape and murder of a medical student on a moving bus in Delhi - had criticised the two-finger vaginal examination.