Delhi Government Outlaws Two Finger Test, Retracts Earlier Circular
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain
NEW DELHI: Lately, the Delhi Government has come to be known for taking a stand on issues and sticking to them even amidst the most the scathing of criticisms from opposition parties, but in a first, the beleaguered government was forced to issue an advisory retracting its decision allowing the infamous ‘two finger test’ done in the case of rape victims.
Earlier this week, The Department of Health and Family Welfare issued a fresh advisory to all hospitals and medical facilities and their Heads in National Capital to withdraw the earlier circular and to follow the new guidelines.
"It is now clarified and further reiterated that medical professionals should not perform the 'finger test' for ascertaining the habituation of the sexual assault victim/survivor to sexual intercourse. All hospital authorities in NCT of Delhi are advised to properly adhere to the same," stated the advisory.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said that the new circular was issued to clarify the apprehensions which arose out of misinterpretation of para 3.10 of the earlier circular. He made it clear that no finger test will be conducted unless out of necessity of medical examination for treatment purpose.
"We called an emergency meeting today with doctors and officials, and are issuing an advisory. We're clarifying that this kind of test should not be conducted at all on victims of sexual assault. However, it's advised that the medical professionals should not perform the two-finger test unless it's only for the purpose of medical treatment, if needed, and not in the case of sexual assault," he said.
According to the circular issued on May 31, it had been recommended that the Per Vaginal (PE) test, commonly known as two finger test can be conducted with the “informed consent” of the victim. It was argued in the same document the physicians should not be made to operate under constraints of a ban, which may result in “incomplete assessment of the victim... injustice and low conviction rate”.
‘Two Finger Test’ is done to assess the injuries to vagina and its interior walls and also to gauge its laxity to know whether the woman is habituated to sex or not. The test has been condemned by many social activists and rights groups as unscientific and archaic. Even Justice Verma Report 2013, formed in the wake of December 16 gang rape had recommended the abolition the barbaric practice.
The practice of ‘Two Finger Test’ is common in many countries including Indonesia where it is necessary for women applying for military service to be a subject of this mortifying procedure.
In India the Union Government banned the practice last year following the Apex Court recommendation to make better medical tools available in case of rape victims and called the practice itself as “inhuman”.