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Pakistan Court Bans Virginity Tests For Rape Survivors In Punjab Province

Pakistan court bans virginity tests

In a landmark ruling, a court in Pakistan has outlawed the virginity tests on sexual assault survivors.

The Lahore Court in Pakistan’s Punjab province ruled on Monday that virginity tests have “medical basis” and it offends the personal dignity of the female survivor. Hence the court said that the so-called virginity tests are against a person’s right to life and right to dignity. The justice only applies to the Punjab province which has a reported population of about 110 million people but the petitioners believe that the judgement has set a precedent for other courts to follow. 

The tests operated on sexual assault survivors involves inspection of the hymen, one of them is conducted by inserting two fingers into the vagina. It is done to determine if the girl is a virgin or not. The same practice is prevalent in many countries of the world. The same was outlawed in India by the Supreme Court in India in May 2013. 

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Justice Ayesha Malik who gave the ruling said in her judgement that the virginity tests do not have any forensic value in cases of sexual violence and are discriminatory against women. She also asked the government to start training programmes to ensure that examiners stop conducting such tests. 

“ 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,” her judgement read. 

Sahar Bandial, who filed the petition against such tests with other lawyers, talked about the hymen is treated as a signifier for a woman’s “purity”. They also lead to women being targeted for being “habituated to sex” 

She added that the tests hinder the justice procedure, “There is an inference that the woman is of easy virtue and likely to have consented to sexual activity.” 

The petition against the tests was filed in March and June 2020 by two lawyers along with activists, advocates, journalists and members of the National Assembly. Punjab court had banned the two-finger test and in its Monday’s judgement, the same ban has been imposed on all other virginity tests.

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