MAHARASHTRA UNIVERSITY of Health Sciences (MUHS) will discuss the removal of ‘virginity test’ from the MBBS curriculum at its next academic council meeting. This comes after a forensic medicine expert wrote to the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the MUHS seeking to scrap it.
Stating that there is no scientific way to test virginity, the forensic department of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) sought from the regulatory bodies that such methods shouldn’t be taught to students.
“The recommendation will be discussed by the academic board at its next session. If found suitable, the required changes will be introduced in Maharashtra,” said MUHS registrar, Dr KD Chavhan.
A virginity test involves examination of female genital organs to assess if the woman has undergone sexual intercourse. It is done in rape cases to determine if the victim is ‘habituated’ to intercourse and in divorce cases if there is allegation of unconsummated marriage. Common methods involve a two-finger test to assess size of the hymen opening, and measuring its size. The Supreme Court has directed against the practice of the two-finger test.
“Such a test can be physically, psychologically, and socially distressing to the examinee. The examination of the hymen or vaginal canal cannot give decisive evidence of vaginal intercourse or any other sexual history,” said head of Sewagram hospital’s forensic department, Dr Indrajit Khandekar. He added that there is no scientific method to confirm if a woman has undergone intercourse. “The hymen can break due to other factors too,” he said.
Pointing out that its is necessary to learn about the anatomy of genital organs, several forensic experts held that it should be taught. “While there is no need to medically opine on a victim’s virginity, studying types of hymen is important in medico-legal cases,” said Dr Harish Pathak, head of KEM hospital’s forensic department.
The current MBBS curriculum provides details of ‘false virgin’ and ‘true virgin’. Forensic experts and gynaecologists said that medical students are taught indicators to assess whether sexual intercourse took place.
Pathak added that in several cases, the standard virginity test, which involves checking for the vagina’s looseness, may indicate that there is no sexual intercourse but other indicators show the victim has been raped. “Therefore, we cannot completely do away with learning about it in MBBS,” he said.