Pakistan court outlaws ‘virginity tests’



Human rights campaigners have welcomed a decision by a Pakistani regional court outlawing so-called “virginity tests” in rape examinations.
The ruling, which applies in Punjab province, will end the practice of physical checks for an intact hymen and the invasive “two-finger test”.

The Lahore High Court judge, Ayesha Malik said the tests were “humiliating” and “had no forensic value”, reports BBC.

The ruling followed two petitions filed in Punjab province by rights activists.

Campaigners have long demanded an end to virginity tests as part of the medical evaluation in rape cases, saying they have no scientific basis.

Monday’s ruling applies in Punjab but may serve as a precedent for petitions in other provincial high courts. A similar petition is currently pending in the Sindh High Court.

Sameer Khosa, a lawyer representing the petitioners in the Lahore case, told the BBC the ruling had “established very clearly that the virginity test has no forensic value in any case involving sexual violence”.

Mr Khosa said he he hoped the relevant authorities would “reset their procedures in the light of this ruling and say goodbye to the virginity tests forever”.

What is a two-finger test?

The “two-finger test” is performed manually by inserting one or two fingers into a woman’s vagina to test for its laxity and for the presence of a hymen – in theory to determine whether or not the woman is sexually active and to what extent.
Some doctors claim the test can determine if a woman has been penetrated for the first time, and the test has been used to discredit victims of rape who are judged to be sexually experienced.

The World Health Organisation has categorically debunked the test, saying it has no scientific merit and is a human rights violation.

In her ruling, Justice Malik said the test was “highly invasive” and had “no scientific or medical requirement”.

“It is a humiliating practice, which is used to cast suspicion on the victim, as opposed to focusing on the accused and the incident of sexual violence,” she said.

Sahar Bandial, one of the lawyers who filed the petition in the Lahore case, said the tests were used to discredit women based on unscientific assessments of their sexual history.

“There is an inference that the woman is of easy virtue and likely to have consented to sexual activity,” Ms Bandial said.

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