The international human rights body, Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday released a report, “Dignity on Trial – India’s Need for Sound Standards for Conducting and Interpreting Forensic Examinations of Rape Survivors”, seeking a ban on the finger test used on rape victims.
The report prepared by Aruna Kashyap, women’s rights researcher with the HRW, documents the continued use of the practice and reliance of the “results” by many defence counsels and courts. The report was released by retired chief justice of Delhi High Court A P Shah.
The practice involves the doctor inserting fingers in a victim's vagina to determine the presence or absence of the hymen and the “laxity” of the vagina.
“This is yet another assault on a rape survivor, placing her at risk of further humiliation,” said Kashyap, adding: “The government should heed the demands of Indian activists to abolish this degrading practice. These tests are unsound scientifically because the state of the hymen is not conclusive about virginity.”
The test conducted on the victim, without “informed consent”, would constitute assault and is inhuman and degrading, states the report.
Consent is interpreted as the victim being asked if she was okay with a male doctor performing the test, which is not sufficient, said Kashyap.
“The doctor has to explain each procedure before conducting the test, which is usually not done. The actual test comes as a shock for the victim, who practically relives the trauma of rape,” said Kashyap.
The Maharashtra and Delhi governments continue to recommend finger tests in their forensic examination templates.