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Medical Rape

Medical Rape

TFT, known as the two-finger test is still making headlines in India. I cringe as I write about this horrible practice. Traditionally the virgin test, TFT is the medical version of checking for rape. The practice is used in India to check for rape. Survivors/victims of rape are sent to the hospital for a medical exam. In many western movies and television dramas we see the overtones of rape tests done by medical examiners involving a line of questioning, swabbing of the various areas/region to collect DNA and fluids. There is physical contact by the examiner to inspect the outer region and collect all possible physical evidence but penetration by two fingers hasn’t made it into any medical textbooks as a legitimate method that I am aware of. Not to make light of this but how the hell did such a process ever make it into the walls of a hospital is beyond my comprehension. Many human rights activists and organizations in India have been fighting this issue for a long time. It has been banned in Delhi and other cities but continues to be widely practiced after being deemed inhumane, degrading and in violation of one’s rights.

As a human being it is appalling that any hospital would use such a protocol to establish whether a rape has occurred. I’m sure other factors are assessed but the demeaning act of TFT might as well be called medical rape. Women have reported feeling the same pangs of violation from their original, horrific event, but by an educated professional whom they are supposed to automatically trust. The lack of sensitivity with which TFT is carried out makes matters worse. So often, in other countries, sensitivity training is at the core of companies, professions and the mission of educational institutions. It is unfortunate that countries such as India, where some of the brightest and smartest people originate from, have such a widely practiced violation of dignity and respect. The virgin test I had heard of being common in many cultures, including ours, and we would chuckle it away and dismiss how ridiculous the notion is today. However, to have it evolved into TFT as a form of rape assessment sends any progress India has made generations back. Even though the Supreme High court has banned the TFT and asked the government to provide better forms of medical procedures to assess sexual assault, the controversial procedure still haunts the corridors of hospitals nationwide.

The fact that the Supreme High Court only repealed the TFT in 2013 does not give me any comfort or raise my culture flag in pride. It saddens me that it took that long for it to happen and that it has not been completely eradicated. From a cultural standpoint there is a lot debate in many other countries using the method as the archaic virgin test but for India to use it as a medical procedure to test for rape is an unfathomable stretch that outrages everyone around the world. Living in India, it has been challenging to bring these atrocities to light. Most people will read about it at a local and national level in publications that take the risk to speak about the topic. On the internet, you may stumble on a blog or feminist website that attracts a specific group of readers. Topics such as these don’t get a lot of air time because by acknowledging the existence of this in India would require personal and social responsibility against the injustice. In the wake of the recent documentary of ‘India’s Daughter” by BBC, so much is being exposed at the international level. It needs to happen for the government to wake up and stop thinking these matters will remain within our borders only. We need to raise more awareness around the world of such practices so no other archaic cultural norm ever becomes a law or medical practice where we turn to for safety, only to be victimized all over again.

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