Degrading & Unscientific Two finger test for a rape victim must be banned

It is unfortunate in the extreme that a woman who first has to bear unprovoked, unrestrained and unending trauma on being subjected to rape is further subject to worst humiliation by being compelled to undergo two finger test for determining whether it is rape or sexual assault. It would be extremely churlish to draw the inane conclusion that gruesome incidents like rape cannot be confirmed without resorting to this two finger test, which is totally unjustified, unneeded and uncalled for. It is an unbeatable irony that this test, has not been totally banned even now after so many years of Independence and is still continuing rather mushrooming unabated and unchecked. Under no circumstances can it be justified.

No nation can ever progress where women are not respected. No sane person will ever justify under any circumstances the use of two finger test on rape victim who already is crest fallen and totally broken. At a time when rape incidents are burgeoning at an astronomical pace and women are not feeling safe to continue with this absurd two finger test on a rape victim will do our nation no good and will only serve to further humiliate and degrade women for no fault of theirs.

It is somewhat gratifying to note that of late even the government and policymakers have woken up to this serious menace afflicting women who are rape victims. In a laudable move aimed at safeguarding victims of rape and sexual abuse from being subjected to further mental trauma, a high-powered government committee has very strongly recommended abolishing permanently the “two finger test” for determining rape or sexual assault. It would certainly by no means be an exaggeration if one says that conducting this two finger test on a rape victim is like rubbing salt on grievous wound.

It is very tragic and deeply regrettable that a rape victim who somehow manages to save her life is routinely subjected to forensic examination which includes the two finger test. It goes without saying that social activists and women organisations have waged a long battle in demanding a complete ban on this “totally archaic, extremely dangerous and highly retrograde” practice, which is receiving undue patronage all over India. They rightly term this two finger test “unscientific and degrading”.

It is imperative to mention here that the Planning Commission’s Working Group headed by Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry, was quite unequivocal in proclaiming: “The Code of Criminal Procedure Code will need to be reviewed to make the procedures more women and child friendly. The two finger test should be abolished.” The panel noted that according to the National Family Health Survey, one third of women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced physical violence, and approximately one in ten had been a victim of sexual violence. The group found low conviction rates more disturbing as this clearly reflected that many of these cases were not being prosecuted properly and inadequate sub-standard proof was tendered before the courts. In 2010, there were 22,171 reported cases of rape and conviction rate was mere 26.6 per cent. Around 40,613 molestation cases were reported in which the conviction rate was 29.7 per cent and 9,961 harassment cases were reported with a conviction rate of mere 52 per cent.

By being forced to undergo a two finger test, a woman is further put to shame and a serious question mark is put on the integrity of woman herself and unnecessarily she is subject to further torture which is totally uncalled for and unnecessary. No civilized country or society will ever allow this to continue with impunity on its soil. What is most disgusting, however, is that the rich and influential rapists still escape scot free with the help of a battery of senior lawyers who exploit all the loopholes in the entire case in favour of saving their clients from being sent behind the bars!

By Sanjeev Sirohi

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