The Delhi government on Monday issued a clarification on a controversial advisory to hospitals to not completely ban the per vaginal examination, also known as the two-finger test, of victims of sexual assault, saying it had been misinterpreted.
Health minister Satyendra Jain read out the clarification after a storm of criticism over the May 31 advisory with activists accusing the AAP government of being insensitive towards victims.
“It is now clarified and further reiterated that medical professionals should not perform the ‘finger test’ for ascertaining the habituation of the sexual assault victim/survivor to sexual intercourse. All hospital authorities in NCT of Delhi are advised to properly adhere to the same,” the government clarification read.
Jain said the government was not withdrawing its previous circular and neither was it backtracking. “We do not need to take face-saving measures. We are just clarifying,” he said.
The advisory had said “medical professionals should not perform the finger test unless it is medically indicated for treatment purposes”, adding that a better test must be used to establish sexual assault. The document was issued as a reply to the Central Information Commission’s directive to the government to make public the status of the test in its hospitals.
“Since there was scope for misinterpretation of the advisory, the chief minister asked for a review,” said a government source.
A complete ban on the test has been sought over the years by several NGOs and civil society on the grounds that the procedure is inhumane and more often than not used to judge whether the rape victim was habitual to sexual intercourse.
The Supreme Court in 2013 had said the controversial test violated a victim’s right to privacy and asked the government to provide better medical procedures to confirm sexual assault.
A new set of guidelines on treating victims by the Union health ministry last year had also proposed banning the test.