End Degrading Medical Exams for Rape Victims in India

Target: India’s Ministry of Home Affairs

Goal: Support protestors who want to reform medical exams for rape victims.

Following the recent gang rape and death of a woman in India, protestors are working to reform rape laws in their country. One of these laws includes allowing doctors to perform invasive and unnecessary medical exams to determine if a woman was a virgin prior to her rape. When a woman in India goes to the doctor after being raped, she is subjected to further humiliation and is often blamed for the rape if the doctor determines that she was sexually active. These procedures are based on the absolutely false assumption that married and sexually active women cannot be raped.

One of the procedures that rape victims must endure is known as a “two-finger test,” in which doctors insert two fingers into the woman’s cervix to determine whether she is used to sexual activity. This test provides absolutely no forensic evidence, but is just a method of determining how accustomed to sex a woman is. If doctors can easily insert two fingers, the woman is often discredited, and the rapist will go free. Another test doctors typically perform is checking a woman’s hymen to see if it is intact. This test is also unnecessary and invasive, since a woman does not have to be a virgin to be raped.

Currently, women in India are deterred from seeking medical attention after rape because they do not want to be subjected to further humiliation and degradation. Rape often goes unreported because victims already feel shame about the event. These violations only increase the likelihood that more rapists will go free and more women will be raped in the future. Protestors in India are currently working with the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs to reform these practices. Please support protestors in India who hope to end degrading medical exams for rape victims.


Dear the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs,

Since the recent gang-rape and death of an Indian woman, many protestors are working to reform the rape laws in India. Amongst these reforms are the medical exams that rape victims must endure. During these medical exams, women are subjected to unnecessary and degrading tests that have no forensic validity and are only used to discredit the testimony of married and/or sexually active women. Performing these procedures is based on the absolutely false assumption that married and/or sexually active women cannot be raped.

The “two-finger test” is used to determine whether a woman is used to frequent sexual activity, while the “hymen test” is used to figure out whether a woman was a virgin prior to the rape. Both of these tests are extremely violating, and likely produce further trauma for rape victims. Not only are these tests traumatic, but they provide no forensic evidence about the rape, and are only used to determine a woman’s sexual past, which is irrelevant to her rape. Women are already hesitant to come forward after being raped, and often feel shame about the event.  Further violating and humiliating women after their rape makes it more likely that women will report the crime and more rapists will go free.

Recently, your Ministry has proposed banning these practices from medical exams based on the protests of Indian women. Thank you for making progress towards protecting rape victims from further abuse. We support the protestors who have insisted that degrading medical exams be banned and we ask you to ensure that these laws are changed.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: javacolleen via Flickr

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