Indian women have made it to the tops of their professions in India. There’s been a female Indian president, women run multi-billion-dollar enterprises and Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, is the most powerful politician in the country.
But on the peripheries of big cities and rural areas of the nation, women continue to fight for equal rights – and this is reflected in how authorities treat rape victims, human-rights groups say. Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense.
In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity. The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.
Comments by politicians that most rape is actually consensual sex, has deepened this way of thinking. There were 24,206 rape cases registered in India in 2011, according to the National Crimes Record Bureau. But the number of convictions of alleged rapists occurred in only a quarter of cases, the statistics show.