submission by Nita Garg – University of Texas School of Law
The Human Rights Watch is pressing the Indian government to ban the so-called “virginity test”, which is commonly used on rape victims in India. The test, which many call degrading and unscientific, is utilized to determine if a victim has had sexual experiences prior to the alleged rape.
Why should it matter if a victim had sexual experiences in the past in a rape case? In most democracies, it doesn’t. However, in many courts in India, including in Dehli and Mumbai, the test is required and could be used by the defense to undermine the character of the victim.
The Human Rights Watch recently published a 54-page report that documents the archaic practice. The organization states that the test can further traumatize a victim and perpetuates a stereotype that rape victims are loose and therefore deserved to be assaulted.
You can read the NY Times article about the test and what the Human Rights Watch stance here.