A curriculum panel of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences has decided that the controversial two finger or “virginity test” will no longer be taught in medical colleges. The panel has approved removal of chapters about the test from textbooks following a petition from a doctor who said that the grounds for the test were “unscientific”, violated human rights and  in no way aided a sexual assault investigation, reports The Times of India.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A curriculum panel has approved removal of chapters about virginity test in medical text books.
  • Virginity test blatantly assumes that all unmarried women are virgins.
  • Why do we need a test which is only applicable to a select group of women in this country?
  • Surely there are better techniques to detect sexual assault, which are not regressive or fuel our cultural obsession with virginity.

Medical colleges across the country need to stop teaching the two finger or “virginity” test to students.

Why just Maharashtra, it is about time that we did away with this highly demeaning test across the country. All medical schools need to stop teaching the two finger test to doctors. Moreover, all doctors must be instructed to stop using this test for any case. This is because the virginity test is one of the most misused tests in the medical practice, which leaves millions of women vulnerable to objectification and pins their character to their hymen.

The two finger test was devised to assess whether a girl or a woman has been sexually violated, purely based on the assumption that all unmarried women are virgins. Thus if an unmarried woman is sexually assaulted the test could be used to prove that she has indeed been violated. However, the test does nothing more than to uphold the patriarchal obsession with female virginity and the value of an intact hymen. The seal of sanctity that makes a woman pious is seen as a proof that her womb hasn’t been “conquered” by another man.

The two finger test was devised to assess whether a girl or a woman has been sexually violated, purely based on the assumption that all unmarried women are virgins.

Say what you may, but even in this day and age virginity matters to grooms in our country. They want virginal brides, to compensate for their own lack of sexual experience and to satisfy their primitive ego which sees a woman’s body as a territory. It is humiliating for them if that territory has been previously conquered. And why just the grooms, Indian women’s virginal status matters to the society and their own families, men and women alike. Virginity is a character certificate in our society, which women must carry with them all the time before marriage. It determines their marital prospects and it is a sack in which they carry the dignity of the clan they represent.

We can’t afford to have doctors who’ll endorse a test which glorifies virginity and dehumanises women.

Somehow, the medical profession in India has found its way into this mesh of female objectification and now finds itself playing a key role. Aren’t such tests misused to test the “purity” of girls before marriage? If we teach doctors the signs to detect virginity, are we enabling them to examine just sexual assault victims? Certainly such a test is useless among married and sexually active women. So what is the point of teaching a test which doesn’t come to aid of all women, when it comes to investigating a sexual assault?

The medical fraternity cannot be encouraging patriarchal practices by still putting regressive tests like two finger test to use. We need open-minded doctors; we cannot leaves detection of something as complex and commonplace sexual assault among women on something as vague, ineffective and out-dated as a virginity test. It just leaves too many women out of the loop. Once we remove this crutch from hands of our medical fraternity they will have to look at more sure shot ways to detect a sexual assault.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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