In 2016, the Court placed a ban on the use of the ‘Two-Finger Virginity Test’ method, which is an inefficient means of testing whether a rape victim has actually been raped.
The test involves inserting two fingers into the victim’s vagina, by a doctor, to access its laxity, before concluding that the victim has had sex.
Not only is the method inefficient, it is invasive, humiliating, and traumatizing to the rape victims. And in so many cases, the test has been unable to prove rape, thereby leaving rape victims without evidence to obtain justice; and the rapist walks away free.
In place of this method, the Court had ordered the use of rape test kits. These kits are more efficient. The kit comprises of a set of swabs, test tubes, bottles in which hair, saliva sample, urine, etc., can be placed, and chemicals for preserving these samples. Through these kits, concrete evidence to prove evidence can be obtained.
Unfortunately, three years after the Court’s ban, many hospitals and doctors still make use of the two-finger virginity test.
Non-compliance with the ban and use of rape test kits, are attributable to certain factors, including the following:
- Little Awareness of the Court’s Ban and Direction: Much awareness has not been created about the Court’s ban. So many people, especially in the rural areas, are not aware that the two-finger test method has been banned and is a malpractice.
- Shortage in Supply of Rape Test Kits: Many hospitals do not have access to the rape test kits. The Government is currently supplying the kits to a selected number of hospitals – mostly hospitals with sophisticated labs.
Hospitals and Police Stations in rural areas, even in States that record high number of rape cases (e.g. Madhya Pradesh), do not have access to these kits.
- Lack of Expertise: Using the kits requires some form of training and specialization. Most Police officers lack this training and specialization, and as such cannot make use of the rape test kits.