Human Rights Watch, an international NGO working for human rights, released a report on problems with the existing methods of forensic examination of rape victims on Monday. Authored by Aruna Kashyap, the report deals with “absolute ignorance of survivor rights by the Judiciary and the State.”
Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice AP Shah, released the report. “As the report points out, the finger test method which continues to be used for examining rape victims is an archaic method. We need a system to sensitise judges and lawyers on a large scale,” he said.Based on 153 High Court judgments, the report cites judgments where the finger test has been cited as evidence of the victims’ compromised moral character.
“This is despite a Supreme Court order in the State of Uttar Pradesh Vs Pappu case where the apex court held that the victims’ sexual history had no bearing on a rape trial,” Justice Shah said. Eminent women’s rights activist and lawyer Flavia Agnes said the outdated forensic science syllabus is the root of problems in India. “Doctors continue to use the archaic finger test when WHO and gynecological organisations around the world have held that it is no proof of a woman’s virginity. When medical science has progressed to such astounding levels, the MCI does nothing to upgrade forensic science curricula. Students continue to read books which were written in the 1920s. The fact that a scientifically baseless test continues to be quoted and made the basis of High Court judgments is alarming,”she added.
Kashyap stressed on the need for a uniform standard to be set for examination of rape survivors. “Currently there is no set protocol which leaves room for ambiguities that compromise the survivors’ rights,” she said.
- The Dangerous Rise in Untested Rape Kits (marieclaire.com)