City hospitals show two fingers to rape victim’s pain and SC ruling
By Rashi Agarwal - NEW DELHI
Published: 24th Jun 2012 09:19:07 AM
Several city hospitals are still practising the Per Vaginal (PV) or two-finger test on rape victims, despite the Supreme Court’s order against it.
This, when the Union Health Ministry decided to make the finger test optional in March 2011. As per the changes, the finger test should be done only if the doctor finds it necessary, and that too, with the consent of the victim.
“It’s mandatory and the moral duty of a doctor to first counsel the victim, then take her consent before actually conducting the PV test. But the ground reality is that doctors at city hospitals not only conduct these tests on rape survivors without consent, but also pass derogatory remarks while doing so,” said activist Bharti Ali.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard on the condition of anonymity, a rape survivor shares her story on how she was made to sleep on the floor of a city hospital for almost two days after the PV test was conducted on her.
“Police took me to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital after the attack. Doctors there didn’t inform me the test was optional, and just conducted it. If I ever had any idea it was optional, I’d never have gone through it. This was the most embarrassing moment in my life,” she said, adding that the doctor’s team treated rape victims in a very derogatory manner. “While there, I saw several other women who were brought in following rape, and underwent the same trauma where the entire team, from ward boy to nurses and junior doctors, treated us like loose women,” she sobbed. She added that the hospital authority treated them in such a shabby way, that without intervention of the police or NGO, a poor victim is not even given proper treatment. “Even basic facilities like medicine and a bed are not given. I slept on the floor for two days this year before an NGO intervened to get me a bed.”
“The PV test on a rape survivor is a second assault on an already traumatised victim,” said Anisha, another activist. NGO Pratidhi, which did a study on rape says that in almost all cases, hospital authorities do not take consent of victims for the PV test, and make them wait for hours for them. “In most cases, to escape legal action, doctors take a thumb imprint of the victim after the test to certify consent. An uneducated victim does what he asks her to do, blindly,” added Ali.
Another victim Shikha (name changed) says when she was taken to Hedgewar hospital, doctors called her a loose women. “Doctors said, inka to yehi kaam hai pehle maje kiye fir rape case laga diya (That’s what she does, first had her fun, then slapped a rape case),” she told The Sunday Standard describing the assault.
Surprisingly, there is so much confusion on the ban on the two-finger test, that even law enforcement agencies are not aware of new guidelines. A Delhi police official in charge of rape cases, when asked why he doesn’t take action when doctors conduct PV test on victims, said, “Without the test, how will one know if the person has been raped or not?”
This becomes a matter of concern when a victim finds herself in the hands of protectors and law enforcement agencies who are themselves unaware of the law.
The need to simplify the format of tests on rape victims was initiated by the National Commission for Women (NCW) which approached the Health Ministry in 2010, after a report by Human Rights Watch found that “many Indian hospitals routinely subject rape survivors to forensic examinations that include the unscientific and degrading finger test”.