High-Court in Pakistan Province Bans Virginity Tests

A Lahore high-court in Punjab Pakistan recently outlawed virginity tests, also known as the “two-finger” test, on survivors of sexual assault. This law expands on a previous ruling in November that banned virginity tests for rape victims.

In March and June of 2020, two petitions brought on by women’s activists were filed in Lahore and argued that the tests were intrusive and retraumatized victims. The United Nations says the tests have no scientific or medical basis considering the practice a human rights violation. The World Health Organization says virginity tests take place all around the world to assess a girl’s “honor or virtue.” Not only do girls suffer physically from the physical pain of such an abhorrent violation, but according to WHO, they are humiliated and suffer from psychological and social outcasting. 

The court echoed the U.N.’s assessment of the tests, ruling there is no medical basis for such a practice and “offends the personal dignity of the female victim and therefore is against the right to life and right to dignity.” 

Justice Ayesha Malik, who voted to ban the tests, said they were “highly invasive,” “discriminatory against women” with no medical or scientific requirements, and is “used to cast suspicion on the victim as opposed to focusing on the accused and the incident of sexual violence.” She is directing the government to craft guidelines and training programs in an effort to ensure the practice is permanently halted.

One of the lawyers and advocates who filed a petition Sahar Bandial said she hopes “this judgment makes the justice system a more responsive and safer place for women to come out and speak against violence.”

The Realist Woman’s take:

This is a good news story but what a story. The fact that girls have been and continue to be violated this way is nothing short of sickening. But again, I am trying to focus on the fact that this practice will no longer be a reality for the province of Punjab in Pakistan, which is the country’s most populous state. 

Activists believe other regions will soon follow Punjab’s lead and that’s a hope I have for girls all around the world who have to endure this.