Thursday, November 4, 2010

India: Reforming Rape Laws

Indian journalist Kavitha Rao reminds us how difficult it is for victims of sexual assault to get help, let alone justice, around the world in this article for womensenews.org about the useless and humiliating "two-finger test" relied on by Indian courts (despite a recent ruling that it was obsolete and should be stopped).
The two-finger rape test involves a doctor inserting fingers in a rape victim's vagina to determine its "laxity" and decide if she is "habituated to sex." Defense lawyers often use this evidence to discredit the testimony of unmarried rape victims, who are dismissed as "loose women."
"The issue of rape is so entangled with the victim's character that doctors think that they have a duty to comment on it through so-called medical evidence," said Flavia Agnes, an activist with Majlis, a Mumbai-based women's group. "In most rape trials, public prosecutors do not actively protect the victim against such slander."
WNL has two reactions: First, bravo! to India's hard-working activists, who know all too well how far they have to go to get an entire subcontinent to change its attitude toward rape.

Second, doesn't this sound all too familiar in our own societies, which may have advanced beyond the crudity of a two-finger test, but still have exactly the same attitudes?



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