The Delhi government has issued a guideline on medical examination of rape survivors and said it cannot ban the Per Vaginal (PV) examination, more commonly known as the two-finger test.
The guideline, circulated to Delhi government hospitals, says “It cannot be recommended that physicians be made to function under the constraint of a complete ban of these essential steps of internal examination of a sexual assault survivor.”
The special secretary (health) in his advisory has said that on this issue, doctors and practitioners in government hospitals are properly sensitised that this test is not at all a routine test. The government, in its guideline has conceded that such tests may not be necessary in all cases.
“But physicians examining such cases ultimately have a duty to do all in the best interests of their patients, only they have to be judicious and take informed consent before they perform these procedures,” said a Delhi government official.
The Supreme Court had also said that such tests are inhuman and should be banned a thought widely echoed by NGOs working in the field.
“Guidelines are being issued time to time but there is no follow-up after that to check whether doctors are following such guidelines. In the advisory, the government has said that doctors are properly sensitized and if it is so that what is the need to issue a fresh guideline. Government must come up with a technology to conduct such checks and ensure that these tests are not done on a routine basis,” said Yogesh Kumar of Pratidhi NGO.
The government in its advisory has clarified that PV examination is not done to judge if the woman under examination is habituated to sexual intercourse. Government has also listed out reasons, for which PV examination is necessary.
“Vaginal examination is done in patients who come bleeding or with some discharge, so vaginal examination cannot be completely stopped. It is to treat the patient and save her life and we have been doing it in specific rape cases,” said a senior gynecologist of a government hospital, requesting anonymity.The government has also advised doctors that survivors must be counseled and made aware of the importance of thorough medical examination and collection of forensic evidence.