Delhi govt to withdraw its circular for two-finger test on rape victims

Delhi govt to withdraw its circular for two-finger test on rape victims
Under attack over its advisory permitting conduct of 'two-finger' test on rape victims, the Delhi government today said the ban on the controversial procedure to ascertain sexual assault will continue.

"As per the instructions, it is advised that the medical professionals should not perform the two finger test unless it is medically required for only treatment purposes. "It cannot be performed for ascertaining sexual assaults. More scientific methods will be adopted for this purpose," Health Minister Satyendra Jain said.

Claiming that the advisory has been "misinterpreted", Jain, who met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal following the controversy, said, "Today we held a meeting and we are issuing a fresh notification. The earlier advisory was misinterpreted."

The Delhi government had recently issued an advisory to its hospitals stating that Per Vaginal (PV) examination, also referred to as 'two-finger test', for rape survivors can be conducted with their consent.

The advisory said, "To do away with this essential pelvic examination would amount to incomplete assessment of the survivor, which will ultimately result in injustice and low conviction rates."

It said "informed consent" of the victim should be taken before conducting the test.
A PV test involves insertion of a finger or two into the rape survivor's private parts for assessment of internal injuries, use of force if any, noting any discharge and gathering of sample, among others.

The two-finger test on victims of sexual assault and rape is banned as per the Union Health Ministry's guidelines. Even the Supreme Court had in 2013 noted that the test violated the victim's right to privacy.

The Justice Verma Committee constituted after the December 2012 gangrape to suggest measures to tackle gender violance had also strongly disfavoured the two-finger test to confirm rape.

"Health department has a huge staff and there are about 50 heads of departments who issue circulars. After CIC asked the government to clarify its instructions the advisory was issued on May 31, but it was misinterpreted," Jain said.

Asked if he was not kept in the loop, he said,"Not everything reaches the level of the minister." "The matter now stands clarified," he said. The circular provoked angry reactions from political parties and activists.

"A rape victim should not be subjected to such human treatment. What AAP government has done is wrong. The health minister must apologise," BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said.
Congress leader and former Union minister RPN Singh termed it as "very unfortunate" and said the test had been banned when the party was in power. "It (the circular) was a bad step and it is good that they have withdrawn in."

Lawyer-activist Abha Singh said the advisory was "degrading" and "violates physical and mental integrity of an already traumatised rape victim". "It is surprising how the Delhi government came out with such a circular despite a Supreme Court ruling. The SC must pass a stricture against the government for the circular which re-traumatises the rape victim," she said.

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