The Punjab Health Authorities have told the Lahore High Court that the two-finger test (TFT), an old practice of examining sexual assault survivors, has limited evidentiary value. The test will be abolished from the protocol of the medico-legal certificate unless necessitated.
A joint reply by the Punjab Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department said, “It is not objective of the medical examination of a female victim of sexual assault to comment about the examinee’s character. Moreover, the TFT is also not practiced with that objective, nor it has any substantial evidentiary value related to the determination of virginity. ”
The petitions mainly plead the intrusive and demeaning practice whereby medico-legal officers perform a hymen test. The “two-finger test” as part of female victims’ medical evaluation is unnecessary and has no scientific basis.
The test has been practiced in Pakistan despite appeals for its cancellation by the International healthcare professionals and human rights organizations.
Replying to the petitions’ points, the government said, “Only authorized women medical officer can conduct the TFT and that too after obtaining the victim or her guardian’s expressed and written consent.
It added, “In case of the victim’s refusal, the medical examination can not conducted, and the referring court must be informed in writing.”
What exactly is the ‘two-finger test’ for?
The two-finger test is conducted to determine if a woman was raped or not. To put it in easier words, it is used to assess a woman’s character to decide whether she was sexually active before the rape.
How is the test conducted?
It is conducted by inserting two fingers or an instrument inside a woman’s vagina. It is used to assess the size of the vaginal opening, the hymen, and the skin circling it 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 protesters were reportedly strip-searched and forced to undergo virginity tests in Tahrir Square.