Two finger test - additional trauma for rape victims !
We use the term “patriarchal society” quite generally, but very few of us realize the extent of patriarchy which we are embedded in. In India, patriarchy is embedded not just in social practices, norms and morals, but also in the legal measures, in the rules and regulations which are supposed to be egalitarian, non-discriminatory, and neutral. At least in a democratic nation with universal suffrage, one would expect no less, right?
However, the patriarchal morality codes dictate the judicial bent of mind to a very large extent. And a very blatant example of that would be the two-finger test. While this test was not just practiced in India, with the developed nations, it fell out of use a long time ago. With the developing nations such as India, however, this rule still applies, and is implemented more often than most of us realize it. During a rape case, the victim is made to undergo the two finger test, where the physician on duty inserts two fingers into the woman to check if she has indeed been raped or not. This is not just demeaning to the woman, it is also a severely inaccurate test, which most gynecologists would/should be aware of. However, the protocol insists that this test be performed in order to judge the claims of the rape-victim.
The rule is a very sexist one, which operates to reinforce patriarchy and sexism at many levels. The rule was initially incorporated to judge the “purity” of a woman before her marriage. Nowadays, it has become a common practice to judge the accuracy of rape cases, but the rule in itself is so inaccurately based on patriarchal grounds, that it should be made illegal in itself. The two-finger test is based on some very skewered notions, which rest on the assumption that rape claims are valid only if a woman has not been sexually active before. This is a very biased judgment, because any consenting adult, whether male or female, should be allowed the freedom and the privacy of carrying on his/her personal life without being subject to public scrutiny, Why should a woman’s sexual activity be made public, and be judged, while in the case of man, his libido, and his sexual activities are condoned? Why should a woman be made to go through so demeaning a test in order to verify her rape claims?
The test in itself is a very flawed on even on medical terms, because the hymen of a woman can be ruptured through non-sexual activities as well. Strenuous physical activities can also cause the hymen to rupture, and as such, the two-finger test cannot possible provide completely accurate evidence of anything having transpired, or not.
Although the test has officially been banned in India last year, the test is still unofficially conducted, even by the victim’s family sometimes. Apart from the objectification of the woman’s body, and the moral judgment attached to the test, the test is a direct blow to the dignity of the woman, and it also causes added trauma to a woman who has already been subject to gruesome physical violation.
The two-finger test in itself is not the fact being evaluated here, because according to official records, the test had been banned last year. The question we should all ask ourselves, is the premise on which these rules have lasted all these years, and the essentially sexist mindset which has lead it to last through the ages. It is this social evaluation of a woman’s body which needs to change.