Health Desk: 13 April 2018: The High Court banned the controversial two-finger test or 'virginity test' of rape victims, a medical exam; victims had to go through to prove their complaint before their case was ready for trial, declaring that it is unnecessary, unscientific and invalid on Thursday.
Female physicians, forensic experts, nurses, and police must be present during examinations of rape victims, the court ruled while delivering the verdict on a writ petition.
It also ordered the authorities concerned of the government to take necessary steps so that the “Protocol for Healthcare Providers” is strictly followed during examinations of rape victims.
The HC directed the government to issue a circular and hold meetings and seminars so that lower court judges, investigation officers, doctors, nurses and lawyers learn the protocol.
A bench of Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore and Justice AKM Shahidul Huq came up with the verdict in response to a writ petition filed by six rights organizations and two doctors in October 2013, challenging the legality of the two-finger test.
The petitioners are Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP), BRAC, Manusher Jonno Foundation and Naripokkho, along with Dr. Ruchira Tabassum Naved and Dr. Mobarak Hossain Khan.
In the petition, they said the test had no evidential value or scientific merit.
It is humiliating, degrading, and a violation of women and girls' fundamental rights to equality and dignity. Many women reportedly refuse to undergo the test due to its invasive and humiliating nature and are thus denied justice, as stated in the petition.
Earlier on October 10, 2013, the court questioned the legality and authenticity of the test. It also issued a rule asking the government to explain why the test should not be declared illegal.
An expert committee was also formed upon instructions from the court to formulate guidelines as to how to support rape victims during examination and treatment.
The ministry submitted the draft guidelines with expert opinions suggesting that the test is “unscientific” and “horrendous” suggesting that the test be abolished.
During a hearing on the rule, the HC bench recorded opinions of at least five forensic experts from different hospitals in 2016, of all who opined that the two-finger test was unethical, unscientific and unnecessary.