A Bangladeshi High Court on Thursday banned the derogatory “two-finger test” on rape victims, saying it has no scientific and legal merit. Issuing the order to settle a five-year-old petition, the court also ruled that lawyers cannot ask any question to rape victims that could hurt their dignity during the trial proceedings, a spokesman of the attorney general’s office said.
The court asked authorities to strictly follow the healthcare protocol which the government adopted last year in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) policies. The two-judge bench comprising Gobinda Chandra Tagore and AKM Shahidul Huq directed the government to issue a circular so that the lower court judges and investigation officers of rape cases will follow the order.
The bench also ordered a copy of the healthcare protocols be sent to every lower courts and hospitals in the country for their proper compliance. There is no legal or scientific basis for the ‘two-finger test’ during the physical examination of women and children rape victims, the court said in its order. Rights activists have long been insisting that the “two-finger test” was irrational and tantamount to a second rape of the victim.
The two-finger test or virginity test allows doctors to examine the rape victims’ vaginal laxity and decide whether the victim is habituated to sexual intercourse and determine the nature of the victim’s character for judicial decision during trials.
In 2013, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) moved the High Court challenging the test. In response, the HC in October that year questioned the legality and authenticity of the test. It also issued a rule asking the government to explain why the test will not be declared illegal.
The court also asked the health ministry to form a committee of experts to develop a detailed guideline to provide support to rape victims on examination and treatment, and submit the guideline to the court in three months. The ministry has submitted the draft guideline, proposing abolishing the two-finger test.