March 18, 2011



Govt spares rape victims the finger humiliation

The government has made finger test, which adds insult to rape victims’ injury, optional. It can now be conducted only when there is no other evidence to confirm rape or sexual assault and that too only with the consent of victims.

The health ministry has issued a note to all central government hospitals, asking doctors to desist from conducting the test as a practice. Medically known as p/v (per vagina) test, it involves a doctor inserting fingers in the vagina to determine its laxity.

The test is seen as physically invasive by women as it often determines a victim’s previous sexual experiences as well. According to women activists, defence lawyers often use this finding to discredit rape victims.

The change of examination pattern has been ordered by health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad following a representation by National Commission for Women.

A team of technical experts has also simplified the pro forma of medical examination report for sexual exploitation to remove irrelevant information sought from victims and cut down unnecessary tests.

This pattern is expected to be followed by state government and private hospitals as well.

The health ministry note states that medical tests on rape victims have to be carried out in a more sensitive manner and should be less humiliating.

Accordingly, doctors will now have to first conduct pubic hair combing and examination of external genitalia to check swelling, injury, bruises, etc, on victims’ private parts to establish rape or sexual assault.

“P/v test has to be conducted only if there is a dire need for further examination or there are no other visible signs of rape/assault or for other findings. We have also simplified the format to remove ambiguity and doubts of various women’s groups pursuing the issue,” a health ministry official said.

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