Supreme Court: Two-Finger Test on Rape Survivors is Unscientific

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Supreme Court: Two-Finger Test on Rape Survivors is Unscientific
Supreme Court: Two-Finger Test on Rape Survivors is Unscientific

On Monday, the supreme court said it is unfortunate that the practice of the “two-finger test” to examine rape survivors is still prevalent in society, and asked the Centre and the states to remove it from the curriculum of government and private medical colleges. 

The higher court  frowned upon the use of two-finger test for rape survivors, saying those conducting this unscientific invasive method of examination should be prosecuted.

It noted the test re-traumatizes the victim as it directed removal of reference to this test from study materials. It said that the practice has no scientific basis to ascertain the sexual history of women, and it instead re-traumatizes them.

Restoring the conviction of an accused in a rape case, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli said the test has “no scientific basis” and “only re-victimises and re-traumatizes women” and it “must not be conducted”.

The court gave the judgement, “This court has time and again deprecated the use of two finger test in cases alleging rape and sexual assault… The test is based on an incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing can be further from the truth”.

During the hearing, Justice DY Chandrachud stressed: “It is patriarchal and sexist to suggest that a woman cannot be believed when she states that she was raped merely because she is sexually active.”

The top court had earlier too issued views on the matter on similar lines when the practice was deemed unconstitutional.

In 2013, when the top court had asked government to replace it, it had said: “Undoubtedly, the two-finger test and its interpretation violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity. Thus, this test, even if the report is affirmative, cannot ipso facto, be given rise to presumption of consent.”

In the hearing on Monday the bench asked the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to ensure that survivors of rape or sexual assault are not put through the test. 

The Supreme Court also asked the health ministry to conduct workshops for health service providers in all states and to communicate the appropriate procedure for examining the survivors of sexual assault.

It also directed that the ministry’s guidelines against the test be circulated widely to create awareness.

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