LHC declares ‘two finger test’ for sexual assault victims illegal

The Lahore High Court on Monday declared that the two-finger examination to determine the virginity of survivors of sexual assault was “illegal and unconstitutional”, adding that it had “no forensic value”.

LHC judge Justice Ayesha A Malik issued a 30-page verdict after hearing the petition challenging the virginity tests of rape survivors, wherein she stated that the test violates Article 9 and Article 14 of the Constitution, which deal with the security and dignity of a person.

The judgement read that it “offends the personal dignity of the female victim.”

“Consequently to the extent that the 2020 guidelines, SOPs, and the 2015 instructions that mandate the two-finger test or the hymen test for the purposes of ascertaining the virginity of the victim have been declared illegal and against the Constitution,” the judgment read.

The judgement declared that virginity tests are “discriminatory against the female victim as they are carried out on the basis of their gender [and] therefore offend Article 25 of the Constitution”.

She also directed the Punjab government to devise “appropriate medico-legal protocol and guidelines and standard operating procedures” which would include “regular training and awareness programmes so that all stakeholders understand that virginity tests have no clinical or forensic value”.

The verdict was lauded by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari on Twitter, where she said: “earlier the anti-rape ordinance already banned this test and it is applicable across the country.”

Last month, President Arif Alvi had approved the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020, to expedite the case process of sexual assault victims.

Under this ordinance, special courts are to be set up across the country to expedite trials and cases of rape at the earliest. The courts are to deal with rape cases within four months.

Moreover, they stated that any examination of a victim should be undertaken only on the judicial order as per Women Protection Act 2006 and with the written consent of the victim, if adult, and from the guardian, in the case of a minor victim.

Furthermore, the examination was to be conducted by woman medical officer (WMO) or board as per Section 299 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The ordinance further stated that the prime minister must look over the establishment of anti-rape crisis cells, as well as authorising the cells to conduct medico-legal examinations within six hours of the incident.

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