Cops can now register a case against panchayats demanding virginity tests: Maharashtra MLA
The government will direct all police stations to act against those who subject brides to virginity tests on wedding nights.Updated: Mar 01, 2018 00:47 IST
The police will now register criminal cases against caste panchayats for demanding virginity tests, minister of State for Home, Ranjit Patil, told the Legislative Council on Wednesday. Patil was responding to a Calling Attention motion moved by Shiv Sena legislator Neelam Gorhe over such incidents in the state.
“An offence will be registered if virginity tests are discussed publicly and instructions will be given to all police stations to take action,” Patil said in the Council.
The age-old practice dictates that a bride be subjected to a ‘virginity test’ on the wedding night. Such practices are prevalent in the Kanjarbhat community and despite complaints no action has been taken by the police, said Gorhe. The community is a ‘vimukta jati’, or de-notified tribe, and is governed by their rules and codes.
“A complaint was registered at the Vishrantwadi police station on January 1 2017, with the Pune police commissionerate on January 6 2018, and at the Pune district collector’s office on January 25 2018. However, no action has been taken till date,” Gorhe said.
Terming it an “assault on the dignity and privacy of women”, Gorhe said that the virginity of a woman should not be discussed by anybody other than the couple.
The educated Kanjarbhats are now taking on the powerful caste panchayat, by speaking out against the practice. The group that registered the police complaints, ‘Stop the V-Ritual’, is run by Vivek Tamaichikar.
“According to the ritual, the husband and wife have to consummate their marriage on a white cloth in a lodge immediately after the wedding rituals. Nobody can escape this as the caste panchayat oversees the test. It is a humiliating test,” said Tamaichikar.
Tamaichikar added that those who oppose the ritual are socially ostracised and boycotted.
Patil said he would, within a month’s time, convene a meeting with social activists working on the cause and the panchayat to discuss the issue. The police will also be sensitised on the issue and a quarterly review will be taken to monitor the progress in such cases, Patil assured the House.
The state will also take action against the caste panchayats who interfere in cases of rapes and sexual harassments by pressurising the police to not file the complaint, added Patil.