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Virginity testing and India's rape culture

Photo via Brown Girl Magazine

By now we've all heard about the 23-year-old Indian woman who died last week as a result of injuries suffered in a brutal gang rape. A woman in Pujab recently killed herself  after police refused to register her rape accusations, and police themselves have been implicated in rapes across the country. Now comes a report on a two-finger test which is still admissible as evidence in rape cases.

Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense. In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity. The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.

So it's the usual combination of bad science, the medicalization of virginity testing, and good old slut-shaming. As reprehensible as India's attitudes are, keep in mind similar attitudes still hold sway in U.S. rape cases where, despite Rape Sheild laws, a sexual history can undermine a woman's credibility.

Update: Thanks to @kalifilms for a link to a story that expands on how poorly the US deals with its own rape culture