THE TWO FINGER VIRGINITY TEST: another case of patriarchal prejudice

“Will you buy a cold drink with a broken seal”, something that a professor from Kolkata asked recently, on his facebook. Seems like a valid question, right? Only, he was highlighting how all the girls that the guys marry should be virgins because that’s what we are- a bottle of coke, who no one would buy (marry) if the seal (virginity) is broken.  In this piece, I shall talk about the horrifying and absolutely degrading practice of the two finger virginity test.

Very recently, a professor from Maharashtra wrote a letter to the centre talking about the availability of the text pertaining to the two finger virginity test in all the medical books, despite the Supreme Court ruling that the test violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity. In his letter, he has stated that the text finds a place in all the medical textbooks, without any scientific relevance.

Rape isn’t about sex. It’s about male power, aggression, violence and domination, and a desire to humiliate a woman by violating her bodily integrity. More like an assertion of masculinity, that denies women their agency and any identity other than that of a wife, mother, daughter or sister. – Rape was considered so obnoxious because it was about the loss of virginity and hence the loss of family honour, never about consent. To top it all, despite issuing fresh protocols for doctors examining rape survivors in 2014, the test still withholds its sacred place, i.e., in the medical textbooks.

Design credits: Vanshika (Team Womenite)

The only rationale behind the extremely crude and gendered concept of the two-finger test was to check if the hymen is intact.

A paragraph in the textbook The Essentials of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (1994) by Dr KS Narayan Reddy, reads like this: “Sometimes, false charges are made by a consenting woman, when the act is discovered by the parents or husband, when she becomes pregnant, or for the purposes of revenge or blackmail.”

Why the talk? – because the references to the test create a misguided perception about the process in the minds of doctors, who can’t afford to be insensitive towards the victim, at any cost. Such omnipresence only glorifies the fact that if the act isn’t penile-vaginal, it is nothing serious. Usually, sexual assault victims are taken to the hospital first, and the lack of sensitivity and empathy on the part of the doctor can only make the situations worse.  There’s a long way to go before people start believing that women are no second- class citizens, changing the outdated the social vision lurking behind their textbooks, tests and protocols will probably be a good start.

Article credits: Racheeta Chawla

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