KARACHI: A group of women made up of journalists, activists and academics are protesting against the demeaning two finger test for rape victims by filing a petition in Lahore High Court.
Petitioners Sadaf Aziz, Farida Shaheed, Farieha Aziz, Farah Zia, Sarah Zaman, Maliha Zia Lari, Asha Bedar and Zainab Husain are demanding an intervention by the High Court to put a stop to this demeaning and inhumane practice, whereby the petition was initiated by lawyers Sameer Khosa and Maria Farooq.
For those who don’t know, many medico-legal officers in Pakistan routinely perform the two finger test as part of the medical evaluation following a rape or sexual assault complaint. In the test, a vaginal examination is conducted using two fingers to determine whether a woman has been raped or not by assessing the size of the vaginal opening. Human rights organisations around the world have condemned this practice and asked for a ban.
The petition argues that these tests have no scientific or medical basis.
“Furthermore, the conduct of such tests on women is an extreme invasion of their privacy and bodily integrity as well as a source of re-traumatization… Therefore, the state inflicts these unconstitutional, medically unsound and inherently biased practices on women when they are at their most vulnerable and most in need of the state’s protection,” states the petition.
The petition demands that virginity tests (including the two-finger test and hymen examinations) on women in any circumstance – but especially as part of an investigation of a claim of rape or sexual assault – as illegal, unlawful, and in violation of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.
Also, the petition asks that use of phrases such as “habituated to sex” and women being of “easy virtue” or “loose morals” be discontinued as part of the medical reports issued by physicians / medico-legal officers in cases of rape and sexual assault and prohibit them from inquiring about the victim’s past sexual experience.