MCI should seriously consider dropping ‘virginity test’ from medical education test

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Published: December 31, 2018 5:10:51 AM

The call for MCI to scrap it from the medical education syllabus is a sane one.


The Medical Council of India (MCI), and indeed, the government, should pay keen attention to what a Maharashtra-based forensic medicine professor, Dr Indrajit Khandekar, is saying in his report on virginity tests. Khandekar highlights the unscientific basis of the test and how it violates human rights and fans entrenched gender discrimination. The virginity test is an examination of female genitalia to ascertain whether a woman/girl claiming rape is ‘habituated to vaginal intercourse’ or not. Khandekar shows that the test can’t prove this conclusively, and points out that some medical textbooks even speak of ‘true virgins’ and ‘false virgins’ without quoting any scientific literature or study. However, this still remains part of the medical syllabus at the MBBS level. Many medico-legal experts worldwide have called for junking it, given both vaginal laxity and broken hymen can occur due to many other, non-sexual reasons.

The call for MCI to scrap it from the medical education syllabus is a sane one, given how the test can be physically and mentally scarring for a rape survivor, and reinforces social and judicio-legal biases related to sexual history and rape claims. It is indeed difficult to understand why a virginity test should be pertinent for a rape investigation. It just biases the authorities against rape claims by sexually active women and, in some cases, women who haven’t yet commenced sexual activity, if the hymen didn’t get ruptured (in cases of digital rape)or got ruptured earlier due to some physical stress or disease. In any case, focusing on a woman’s sexual history is abhorrent, more so when such tests are not demanded of men.

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