‘Virginity test sexist, unconstitutional, inhuman’

Virginity test conducted on a female detainee or accused under investigation whether in judicial or police custody is unconstitutional, the Delhi High Court held on Tuesday.

The court said that conducting virginity test not only amounts to interference with the bodily integrity of a woman but also has psychological impact and will have serious and profound effects on her mental health, according to Bar and Bench.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said that test brings forth the “undesirable and abhorrent notion of differentiation on the basis of gender and stereotypes” and amounts not only to interference with bodily integrity of a woman but also psychological integrity, it added.

“Virginity testing is a form of inhuman treatment and the same violates the principle of human dignity. The test, being violative of right to dignity of an individual, cannot be resorted to by the State and the same shall be in teeth of the scheme of Indian Constitution and the right to life enshrined under Article 21,” the court observed.

Justice Sharma rejected the argument that conducting this test on a woman who is victim of sexual assault and on a woman who may be an accused of an offence will be on different footing.

“Some fundamental rights cannot be suspended or infringed or abridged even when a person is in custody and right to dignity is one such fundamental right which falls within the ambit of Article 21,” the judge underlined.

The court emphasised that the concept of “custodial dignity” of a female includes her right to live with dignity even while in police custody and conducting a virginity test on her not only amounts to interference of the investigating agency with her bodily integrity, but also with her psychological integrity, according to NDTV.

“Strangely, though the word ‘virginity’ may not have a definite scientific and medical definition, it has become a mark of purity of a woman. The intrusive testing procedure, as has been held in several judgments of the Hon’ble top court, does not have a medical standing,” the court said.


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