The Supreme Court on Monday prohibited “Two-Finger Test” in rape cases and warned that persons conducting such tests will be held guilty of misconduct. It reiterated the ban on the “two-finger test” in rape cases, warning that persons using such tests will be deemed guilty of misconduct.
Observing that the test was based on a patriarchal mindset that assumed that sexually active women could not be raped, the bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli regretted that such a method of examination was being used even today.
“This court has time and again deprecated the use of two finger test in cases alleging rape and sexual assault. The so-called test has no scientific basis. It instead re-victimizes and re-traumatizes women. The two finger test must not be conducted. The test is based on an incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing can be further from the truth”, the bench observed while pronouncing the judgment.
“The probative value of a woman’s testimony does not depend on her sexual history. 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 bench added.
The court also decried the lack of scientific basis of the test. “This court has time and again deprecated the use of two finger test in cases alleging rape and sexual assault. The so-called test has no scientific basis. It instead re-victimizes and re-traumatizes women. The two finger test must not be conducted..,” the bench said. The bench also called the practice “patriarchal and sexist.”
The bench directed the Union and state governments to ensure that the guidelines of the Department of Health and Family Welfare are circulated among all government and private hospitals, further asking for workshops to be conducted in which proper examination methods can be communicated.
“Stating the test re-victimizes and re-traumatizes the women, the court warned that, “the two finger test must not be conducted. The test is based on an incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing can be further from the truth.” said the bench.
A “per vaginal” or two-finger test is an explicitly intrusive physical examination wherein a doctor inserts two fingers inside the vagina of a rape survivor to check if the hymen is intact or not.
It examines the laxity of vaginal muscles in order to determine if the woman has engaged in or has been subjected to sexual intercourse – a proof of virginity. In some cases, it is done by inspecting the size of a vaginal opening and for tears in the hymen.
The Bench further directed to conduct workshops for health providers to communicate appropriate procedure examining survivor of sexual assault. It also directed to review curriculums in medical schools so that the two finger test is not prescribed as one of the procedures to be adopted while examining survivors of sexual assault and rape.
In 2013, the Supreme Court, in the case of Rajesh vs. State of Haryana, ruled that conducting the two- finger test was “unconstitutional”. Following this, the Union health ministry had brought guidelines for medico-legal procedures on survivors of sexual violence in 2014.