The doctrine of the two-finger test is a practice that has been deemed very
unnecessary in the medical field. It violates the rights of privacy, dignity,
and the law, as well as the public's right to know what their doctor is doing
with their private bodily fluids or bodily functions. This article analysis this
brutal test and sorts out solutions, if this test has been or is still been
What is the two-finger test?
The two-finger test is also called per vaginum, it is an explicitly intrusive
physical medical examination wherein a doctor inserts two fingers inside the
vaginal of a rape survivor to check if the hymen is intact or not.
The two-finger test is performed by a doctor on a rape survivor to check the
laxity of her muscles and determine if she has been sexually active or to assess
whether she invited the assault on her leading to rape. This act is
unscientific, unethical, unnecessary, and unhelpful in cases relating to rape
and sexual assault.
An international uproar was sparked by the vicious gang rape of a student in
Delhi, widely known as the "Nirbhaya gang rape case in December 2012." The
international outrage catalyzed progressive legal amendments in India, including
introducing harsher punishments for perpetrators and giving a wider definition
of sexual assault. However necessary changes to the health system have been
slower, despite the responsibility of doctors to provide medical and
psychological help to victims.
Major attention has been focused on the two-finger test; this disturbing
practice was originated in the 18th century and involves the insertion of both
fingers into the vaginal. The insertion of one finger into the vaginal with
difficulty is interpreted to determine if the victim was a virgin, while the
insertion of two fingers suggests that the victim is habitual to sexual
According to a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli," The alleged
test is based on the incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be
raped. Nothing could be further from the truth: a woman's sexual history is
irrelevant when determining whether the accused raped her."
The erroneous notion that a sexually active woman cannot be raped serves as the
foundation of the so-called test. After such brutal acts, a woman must be
protected and rehabilitated. Nevertheless, when tests like this are being
carried out it will be mostly considered more of a re-rape to the victim. Which
would harm her right to privacy.
What Does The Law State Regarding Two-Finger Tests?
The two-finger test is a technique that has been disregarded in the healthcare
sector as being wholly unneeded because it violates the rights to privacy and
dignity as well as the law.
The Supreme Court while seeking to put an end to the invasive two-finger test
directed the center and states to review the curriculum in medical schools to
ensure that the practice is not one of the procedures required while examining
rape survivors and sexual assault victims.
The right to privacy being an integral feature of the right to life and personal
liberty under Article 21 is protected as part of the rights and liberties
guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.
As one of the basic human rights, the right to privacy is not treated absolute
and may be lawfully restricted for the protection of morals, health, and
The practice of the two-finger test has been deemed to be a very unnecessary
medical practice in law and the medical field, leading to the violation of human
privacy, dignity, and law. The Supreme Court in " X V. Hospital Z, AIR 1999"
referred to Article 8 of the European convention of human right which defines
the right to privacy:
- Everyone has the right to respect his private and family life, his home,
and his correspondence.
The World Health Organization also suggested that examination of women after
rape should be minimally invasive and has also advised that any sort of medical
examination is hardly necessary to be carried out on a sexual assault survivor.
In Lilu Rajesh and Anr v. State of Haryana (2013)
, the Supreme Court
ruled that the two-finger test should not be used because it is unconstitutional
and that the victim's prior sexual experience should not be taken into account
when determining the consent or the quality of the consent given by the victim.
After the Delhi gang rape case of Dec. 2013, Justice Verma Committee had
recommended that the two-finger test is like another assault on the victim and
the test should be stopped. The Delhi Government had conceded in its guidelines
that two-finger tests should be banned for cases of sexual assault and advised
doctors to counsel the victims. Two-finger test is not the only method of
determining injury of genitalia and signs of penetration there are other more
scientifically accurate methods.
Even after passing the guidelines for banning the two-finger test, on April
20th, 2014, just after the Delhi Gang Rape Case where a Dalit girl was gang
raped and thrown out of a moving bus in Singrauli. Having conducted the
two-finger test, the Madhya Pradesh police concluded and gave the statement in
press media that the girl was habituated to sexual activity. This is a general
assumption that the women habituated to sex may also lie about sexual assault.
Nearly ten years after originally urging a ban on the two-finger test in rape
cases, the Supreme Court (SC) has done so again. It has been said that people
who engage in it will be found guilty of misconduct
The observations were given in a Supreme Court judgment reversing the Telangana
High Court's October 31, 2022 acquittal of a rape suspect. The bench was
composed of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli.
The practice was described as "patriarchal" and "sexist" by Justice Chandrachud.
Chandrachud noted that the test was "based on a false notion that a sexually
active woman cannot be raped," in addition to re-traumatizing and re-victimizing
women. The victim's sexual history is not relevant evidence in this case. It is
terrible that it still exists.
How The Medical Field Can Protect Itself From Legal Consequences:
One of the highest-value occupations in the world is in the medical field. If
doctors observe the appropriate care, honesty, efficiency, and professional
expertise, the practice of medicine can deliver a wonderful contribution to
humanity. However, the doctor-patient bond has changed in modern times.
Doctors administer the two-finger test to lawyers who must defend the
prosecution. Doctors should help victims recover rather than re-victimize them.
The ministry of health and family welfare, the government of India has issued
several guidelines and protocols for medico-legal care for survivors of sexual
The guidelines provide:
- The Per-Vaginum test, also known as the "two-finger test," should not be
- The size of the vaginal introitus has no bearing on the case of sexual
violence, and pre-vaginal examinations can only be performed on adult women
when medically indicated.
- The guidelines also state that the hymen's status is irrelevant because
it can be torn due to other factors such as cycling and riding, among
others. An intact hymen does not rule out sexual violence, nor does a torn
hymen prove sexual intercourse.
- When documenting examination findings in sexual violence cases, the
hymen should be treated as any other part of the genitals.
- In the case of an assault, only relevant findings such as fresh tears,
bleedings, and bruises should be considered.
A complaint can be filed against the doctor who tries to perform the
two-finger test during the medical test of rape victims by the medical council
in India. The victim can file an online complaint at the Medical Council of
India (MCI). The aggrieved party can lodge a complaint and can send their
feedback by entering their name, the subject, and email address along with the
complaint/feedback description in the form
The following procedure needs to be followed:
- When there is any professional misconduct by any medical practitioner
who is registered under the Indian Medical Council, the appellate can file a
complaint to the State Medical Council to initiate inquiry and action
against the doctor. State Medical Council would then hold an inquiry and
also allow the respondent to be heard.
- The Council has to decide against the Medical Practitioner within a time
limit of 6 months. When the complaint is pending, the council may restrain
the physician to perform the procedure which is under scrutiny.
- If the Medical practitioner is found guilty, the State Medical Council
may award punishment to the practitioner as per the regulation.
If the State Medical Council does not take any decision within the time limit of
6 months, then the Medical Council of India may impress upon the State Medical
Council to conclude and decide the complaint within a bound schedule or it may
decide to withdraw the complaint and refer it to the Ethics Committee of the
Council for its expeditious disposal in a period of 6 months.
- Dr.Jagdish Singh, Vishwa Bhushan (2004), "medical negligence &
compensation" Bharat publications (4th edition).
- Khambati, Nisreen (2014) "India's two-finger test after rape violates
women and should be eliminated from medical practice" BMJ (Clinical research
- Aditya Verma "right to privacy" central information commission report
on- Right to privacy
- Sunil Baghel, Alka Dhupkar (2022) "why supreme court stepped in again to
stop two-finger tests" Timesofindia.com
- Shraddha Patidar, shewta (2018), "Two-fingerer test while examining a
victim of sexual offenses" ipleader.com
Written By: Saibu Ewade
- All rights reserved, do not quote or distribute without permission of
- Student of Noida international university, BALLB 9th semester