India

Delhi clarifies controversial 'two-finger" rape test

Anti-rape protest in Delhi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sexual crimes have been under the spotlight in India in recent years

Authorities in the Indian capital, Delhi, say an official letter that encouraged doctors to use a banned test to determine whether a woman had been raped was "misinterpreted".

The note, issued in May, said doctors could insert two fingers into the patient's vagina to assess injuries.

Critics say the test is often used by defence to argue that victims are used to having sex and have not been raped.

The "two-finger test" has been banned by India's health ministry.

The ban followed the Supreme Court ruling in 2013 which said the test violated a woman's right to privacy and had no scientific validity.

On Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said the controversial test was "banned for sexual assault victims".

"Today we held a meeting and we are issuing a fresh notification. The earlier advisory was misinterpreted," Press Trust of India news agency quoted him as saying.

"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," he added.

Activists have long opposed the test for being unnecessary and discriminatory to women - they say it adds to the trauma and humiliation of rape victims and often allows a rapist to get away.

India has tightened its laws against sexual violence, but activists say a lot of premium is still put on virginity and victims are often blamed for the crime.

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