In landmark ruling, Pakistan court outlaws ‘virginity test’

The decision has been welcomed by activists who have been fighting for a long time to end this age-old patriarchal practice.

In a landmark decision, a court in Pakistan has banned the practice of “two-finger” test or the “virginity test” in rape examinations. The Lahore high court on Monday passed the decision to end this practice as it is “humiliating” and “had no forensic value”.

The decision has been welcomed by activists who have been fighting for a long time to end this age-old patriarchal practice. 

The two-finger involves inserting two fingers into the vagina of a rape survivor in order to determine the laxity of the muscle and the condition of the hymen.

In the judgment, Justice Ayesha A. Malik noted, “Virginity testing is highly invasive, having no scientific or medical requirement, yet carried out in the name of medical protocols in sexual violence cases. 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”. 

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Global organisations like the WHO have called for a ban on the practice because it has no scientific merit as is a human rights violation. 

The Lahore high court referenced other similar judgements from India’s Allahabad and Gujarat high courts that banned the practice in 2016.

The Lahore high court judgment also read, “Change can only be brought about when the people responsible for the change understand and acknowledge the reasons for changing old practices which no longer find any justification.”

“Merely documenting change and not implementing change does not mean that the Federation, or the Provincial Government have acted in accordance with the Constitution, the law, and international obligations. Hence a concerted effort must be made so as to ensure that virginity tests are stopped in totality.”

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