By Veda Nadendla:
With just two fingers of my hand, I can eat peanut butter straight from the jar, I can burst a pimple, I can make the peace sign and I can make a gun. But some doctors around the country are using the two fingers of their hand to tell if a woman has been raped or not. They insert two fingers into the rape survivors’ vaginal opening to determine whether her hymen is intact and whether she is habituated to sex. Based on the results of this inhuman and unscientific ‘Two-Finger Test’, a court of law will judge whether the rape was the survivor’s fault or not.
In recent times, this rape test has been banned and deemed insensitive and unscientific by the government, yet is being practised by forensic doctors across 18 states of India. The test is supposed to determine whether a woman has had sex before based on the presence/absence of hymen, laxity of vaginal walls, and habituation to sex, all based on inserting two fingers into a rape survivor’s vagina. The test relies on a fallacy that only sexual intercourse can rupture the hymen and that laxity of the vaginal wall means lots of sex. These misguided notions then give the doctor’s verdict on the victim’s account of rape.
Is it not enough that she has been raped, that we need to question her statement by dissecting her character and sexual history too? Despite past history being disallowed in rape trials since 2003, by means of this test, a rape survivor’s testimony becomes prejudiced, allowing complete character assassination during trial. When primary medical providers themselves fail to understand the trauma and pain experienced by a rape survivor, how can we expect our judicial system to? The two finger test can logically be termed ‘medical rape’ leading to character assault and victim-shaming, encouraging the court of law to adjudge unfair notions of the victim which are unrelated to her rape.
In interviews with medical students across India, The Ladies Finger discovered that there is shamefully little knowledge about examining a rape survivor and about the legitimacy of the two finger test. There seems to be a belief that the test is as scientific as the existence of matter. They realized it was time for change; time to educate people about the real uses of two fingers, The Ladies Finger presents The Two- Finger Campaign.
The Editor of The Ladies Finger, Poorva Rajaram, says, “Post December 16, there has been a change in rape laws and in the way rape is judged by the court, but sadly there is no change in the beliefs surrounding rape. Even today, the court digs into the past history of the survivor signifying that it has something to do with her rape. Such a notion being exemplified by the judicial system has trickled down to our societies and general mindsets of people. This is where victim-shaming comes from. A woman’s sexual history is nobody’s business, if she has been raped, her past history has no role to play in the verdict against her culprits.” In reference to the interviews with medical students, conducted by The Ladies Finger team, Poorva says that their education is letting them down miserably and it is time someone changed that.
Through The Two Finger Campaign, The Ladies Finger wants you to tell them how you will use two fingers through videos like the ones above. You can do your bit to spread awareness about the insensitivity of the two finger test by uploading your video on any social networking site with #2fingerfraud. To see your video on The Ladies Finger, email it to [email protected]
The campaign does not only seek an effective ban on The Two Finger Test, but wants to see a society where doctors and medical students understand how ludicrous the practice is, and that it leads to an unfair judgement of the survivor. We cannot call ourselves a developed nation until we rid our forensic spaces of this heinous and inaccurate practice. We dare not call ourselves modern when we cannot be humane. The two-finger test causes a butterfly effect, wherein, the history of the rape victim and her life becomes a spectacle for the law and the public to pass judgement on her. At a time when she needs solidarity and encouragement, we slander about her character and humiliate her. I say this not just to doctors and medical students, but to each and every person out there, rape is not the victim’s fault, she did not ask for it. If you cannot understand that, how can you be human?