Women file petition to put an end to the ‘two-finger virginity test’ – but what is it?

A group of women has moved the court, calling for a ban on virginity test.

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Pakistani women have moved the court to put a ban on the ‘two-finger virginity test’ that is carried out on rape survivors. The petition has been filed by a group of female journalists, activists and academics in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The petition argues that the test is not reliable and is extremely humiliating for women to endure . The ‘two-finger’ test is administered to assess the size of a woman’s vaginal opening. It is usually conducted on rape survivors, to ‘check if she was actually raped or was it consensual’.

However, despite the ban in many countries, it is widely practiced in Pakistan. It has no medical evidence to back it up and is a shameful invasion of a woman’s private space and bodily integrity.

The petition states that “neither the size of the vaginal opening, nor the ease with which the fingers can be admitted, or the state of the hymen is medically sound indications of prior sexual activity. Such tests are banned in India and Bangladesh.”

If you have never heard about it, here’s all that you need to know about this absurd practice:

  • What exactly is the ‘two-finger test’ for?

Two-finger test is conducted to determine if a woman was actually raped or not. To put it in easier words, it is used to asses the character of a woman that to determine if she was sexually active prior to the rape.

  • How is the test conducted?

It is conducted by inserting two fingers or an instrument inside a woman’s vagina. Assessing the size of the vaginal opening, the hymen and the skin circling it, it is determined if the victim was raped.

  • Is it reliable?

Absolutely not. Scientists and researchers are on the same page on this subject as the hymen can break due to multiple reasons and some girls are even born without it. In October 2018, United Nations and World Health Organisation announced a formal ban on the practice, terming it “unscientific, harmful and a violation of women’s and girls’ human rights.”

The test also has a history of being used as a tool of political violence against women. During the 2012 protests in Egypt, female protestors were reportedly strip-searched and then forced to undergo virginity tests in Tahrir Square.

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