Thursday, March 17, 2011

No traumatic examination of rape victims

The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has done away with the controversial ‘finger test' conducted during a medical examination to help ascertain whether a victim of sexual assault was “sexually experienced” or not. It will now be done only if necessary.

The pro forma of the medical examination report for sexual assault victims has also been simplified to make it more gender-sensitive.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad ordered the changes, on the intervention of the National Commission for Women (NCW), which drew his attention to the ‘finger test' provision that involved inserting fingers to measure “vaginal laxity” and thereby ascertain whether the victim was “habitual to sex” before the assault.

With society changing and with more and more people disapproving of marital rape, the provision often went against a victim if she was married or sexually active, and it was often exploited by the accused to escape punishment.

The revised pro forma does not require doctors to go into minute details while physically examining the victim, as these often added to her trauma. However, there is a provision which says samples collected for forensic testing will be preserved for DNA profiling if required later.

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