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Pakistan must end 'inhumane virginity testing,' rights group says

Pakistan’s Ministry of Law and Justice said virginity tests are 'invasive and meaningless.' [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 October, 2020

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HRW has urged Pakistan to completely end the practice of virginity testing.

Pakistan must follow through its steps to end the “cruel and inhumane” practice of virginity testing on girls and women, Human Rights Watch has urged.

Saroop Ijaz, the rights group’s senior council of the Asia Division, said on Wednesday Pakistan’s government needs to amp up its efforts in ending virginity testing, after a landmark statement by one of the country’s ministry.

Last week, Pakistan’s Ministry of Law and Justice said a test commonly used to determine whether a girl or a woman is a virgin is “invasive and meaningless.”

The ministry said the so-called virginity tests are in violation of article 14 of the Pakistan Constitution, which safeguards human dignity and the right to privacy.

The test, dubbed as the “two finger test”, consists of an intrusive physical examination used to determine whether a woman's hymen is intact.

It is often used in criminal investigations, including cases of alleged pre-marital sex, or even after a woman files a complaint to the police after a rape.

One underlying rationale, which has been under consistent fire by activists and medics is that if a woman fails the so-called test, she was less likely to have been raped because she is “habituated to sexual intercourse.”

“Putting an end to this abusive practice is long overdue,” Ijaz said. 

“The government will now present its recommendation to the Lahore High Court, which is hearing public interest petitions filed by lawyers, academics, civil society activists, and a member of parliament who joined forces to argue the test is disrespectful, inhumane, and violates fundamental rights.”

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