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Petition filed in Lahore court against virginity testing

Petition filed in Lahore court against virginity testing


Women have filed a petition in Lahore High court seeking to halt the authorities from conducting virginity tests.

The petition was filed on Wednesday, which states that virginity tests such as ‘‘two-finger test’ and examination of the hymen are medically incorrect and should be made unlawful.

Why virginity tests are conducted?

In Pakistan, virginity tests are conducted on rape survivors to check if they have had sexual intercourse before. The assumption is that a woman must be a virgin for her to be raped, said lawyer Maliha Zia Lari, one of the petitioners in the case.

The World Health Organisation has indicated that such tests do not have any scientific and medical basis, says the petition.

“Neither the size of the vaginal opening, nor the ease with which the fingers can be admitted, or the state of the hymen are medically sound indications of prior sexual activity,” it adds. Such tests are banned in India and Bangladesh.

Why the virginity tests are problematic?

These tests are based on the colonial practise in the subcontinent and do not have any medical basis. The petitioner said, such tests violate women’s space and dignity.  ‘They are an “extreme invasion of [women’s] privacy and bodily integrity as well as a source of re-traumatisation”, further added the petitioner.

The survivors are “either completely unaware or not informed in enough detail with sufficient sensitivity,” it says. Rape survivors are not informed about their right to refuse to conduct these tests. They don’t generally have the knowledge that they have “consented to the disclosure of the results of these tests to third parties”.

“Instead of punishing violence against women, the reliance of the justice system on such tests actually results in a far more insidious form of violence upon women inflicted by the State itself,” the petition adds.

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