Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Supreme court orders ban on ‘two-finger test’ in rape cases

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It’s a breach of dignity and privacy, it’s against the law, and it represents a “patriarchal mindset,” according to the Supreme Court, so why is the two-finger test to determine the “virginity” of rape survivors used so publicly in India?

This is a question that irritated the country’s highest court on Monday, when a bench led by Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli declared the regressive method “patriarchal” and “sexist.”

“This court has time and again deprecated the use of two finger test in cases alleging rape and sexual assault. The so called test has no scientific basis. It instead re-victimises and re-traumatises women. The two-finger test must not be conducted….The test is based on an incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing can be further from the truth”, the bench observed while dictating the judgment.

It added: “The probative value of a woman’s testimony does not depend on her sexual history. It is patriarchal and sexist to suggest that a woman cannot be believed when she states that she was raped merely because she is sexually active.”

While restoring a rape conviction, a Supreme Court bench comprised of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli issued the following observations.

The panel overruled a Jharkhand High Court judgement acquitting a rape and murder defendant and maintained a trial court decision convicting him.

The Supreme Court also directed the health ministry to hold courses for health care providers in all states to teach the proper approach for assessing sexual assault survivors.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the “two-finger test” infringed a woman’s dignity and privacy.

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