An average of 86 rapes
took place in India every day in 2021. And around 99%
of sexual assaults go unreported, according to government estimates. Survivors are often intimidated from reporting the assaults by a legal system — including an invasive “two-finger test” — that blames and retraumatizes them. UN agencies
have called for an end to the “medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice.”
Dr. Indrajit Khandekar, a Maharashtra state-based activist and forensic expert, saw how the degrading test retraumatized female victims as young as 19, reports the Hindustan Times
. “As a result, one might wonder whether this is a trial for rape on a woman or a trial for the victim’s character. Even the insertion of the fingers into the vagina of a female without her consent is nothing but a second assault,” Khandekar told VOA News
His crusade against the unscientific test began in 2010. Khandekar spent nine months writing a 258-page report explaining why the test should be discontinued. His report was the basis of a public interest litigation that he filed in the Bombay high court in 2010.
Finally, the hard work of Khandekar and many activists has begun to pay off. On Oct. 31
, India’s Supreme Court ruled that anyone who conducts the “regressive and invasive” test on survivors of sexual assault or rape will be guilty of misconduct. Activists hailed the landmark ruling, which attached punitive action on doctors found conducting the test.
Enforcement would be key, though, to finally end the use of the unscientific process. Human Rights Watch
notes that despite the 2014 guidelines from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which included eliminating the test, doctors still conduct this procedure.
India’s medical degree curriculum would also need to be revised, according to Mumbai-based Centre for Enquiry Into Health and Allied Themes (Cehat). Sangeeta Rege, director of Cehat, said that group’s research found that the curriculum still contains “unscientific terms such as defloration, virginity testing and types of hymen, which have no basis in medical science and perpetuate biases against women,” reports the Straits Times