1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Pakistani court bans intrusive rape test

January 4, 2021

Human rights activists have long demanded that the "two finger" test be banned. The WHO says it is a human rights violation and has no basis whatsoever in science. The ruling is the first of its kind in Pakistan.

A woman with a head scarf
Many women remain silent and decline to file a police report because of the stigma surrounding rapeImage: Getty Images

A court in Pakistan on Monday outlawed virginity tests on rape victims— a longstanding practice in the country used to assess a woman’s so-called honor.

Human rights activists had filed a lawsuit the eastern city of Lahore in a bid to have them banned.

The World Health Organization says the two-finger virginity test — an invasive examination which involves a medical examiner inserting two fingers into a woman's vagina — has no scientific merit.

The judges ruled that the practice "offends the personal dignity of the female victim and therefore is against the right to life and right to dignity."

Women's march in Pakistan faces extremist violence

Pakistan's president had already moved to ban the test in December as part of a new anti-rape law.

But that legislation allowed for visual inspections of the hymen to assess tearing and scars to continue.

The Lahore High Court ruling banning all forms of virginity testing will apply to Punjab province and is the first of its kind in Pakistan.

Pakistan President Arif Alvi approved a new anti-rape law in December.
Pakistan President Arif Alvi approved a new anti-rape law in December.Image: picture alliance/Zumapress

Much of Pakistani society operatesunder an oppressive system of honor, in which rape victims face social stigma and assaults are vastly underreported.

Hundreds of women are raped in Pakistan each year, but those who commit the assaults are rarely punished due to weak laws and complicated procedures for prosecution, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Many women remain silent and decline to file a police report to avoid being named and shamed by Pakistan's conservative society.

Lawyers for the activists who brought the petition said it was a "much needed step in the right direction of improving the investigative and judicial processes and making them fairer for victims of sexual assault and rape."

A similar case is being heard in the Sindh High Court and women's rights activists hope the Lahore court ruling will set a precedent for a nationwide ban.

Neighboring India banned the two-finger test in 2013 and Bangladesh followed suit in 2018.

Female poet wins fans in patriarchal Pakistan

jf/nm (AFP, dpa)