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Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

Unmasking the Two-Finger Test: Patriarchy and Unconstitutionality

Patriarchy, a central and complex system that upholds gender inequality, impacts how people in positions of authority respond to sexual assault. The ‘two-finger test’ or the ‘per vaginum’ test which has been repeatedly decried and now banned by the Indian Supreme Court (see here) in 2013 is an example of this.

“This court has time and again deprecated the use of two finger test in cases alleging rape and sexual assault. The so-called test has no scientific basis. It instead re-victimizes and re-traumatizes women.”

In India (as well as other parts of the Subcontinent) in addition to other processes, survivors of sexual assault undergo a set of medical tests. A component of this medical process is the unscientific “two-finger test.” This invasive test involves a medical practitioner inserting two fingers into the vagina of a survivor.

This extremely traumatizing practice remains normalized largely because it relies on patriarchal notions like “virginity” or “laxity of the vagina.” These notions are used by medical practitioners and police personnel alike to ‘decide’ whether a survivor has been raped or not.

The term “virginity” is synonymous – at least in our society today – with a woman’s ‘chastity’ and is a determining factor for one’s character. Similarly, the seemingly scientifically named notion of ‘laxity’ relies on the false understanding that vaginas ‘lose laxity’ with repeated penetration. Underpinning this harmful understanding is the patriarchal logic that a person with a ‘loose’ vagina ‘cannot be raped.’ 

On the contrary, the U.S.-based National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that the ‘laxity’ of the vagina “may develop after pregnancy and vaginal delivery and may be affected by prior surgery, menopause and aging.” In short, vaginal laxity, a factor on which the two-finger test decides whether an individual is a survivor of rape or not is completely baseless and incorrect.

The test’s persistence also brings to the surface many other patriarchal logics: not believing women, not understanding how survivors are put through trauma again by the very authorities that claim to ‘protect’ them, and treating a survivor as a passive victim with no agency to determine what next steps to take to heal from trauma.

This list is long and so has been the fight to end the practice. Yet, while the test is banned, it continues to be practiced around the country. We at Jhatkaa alongside the National Council for Women Leaders (NCWL) are launching a nation-wide campaign to demand an end to this invasive and baseless practice. Add your sign to this campaign – it will allow us to contact and put pressure on the relevant authorities to take actions on our demands which you can read on the petition page. Join us today by signing now:

You can also find out more about the campaign on our social media which we update regularly:


  • बेला जेराई
    Posted July 6, 2023 7:54 pm 0Likes

    Hamen milkar is aakramak aur niraadhaar pratha ko samapt karne ke liye mahilaon ko ekjut hona padega .

  • Sunil Talwar
    Posted July 24, 2023 11:15 am 0Likes

    Is there any data which certifies that only virgins are sexually assaulted or raped. If not Then how does this two finger test helps if a married woman or a sexually active female is assaulted if they too are subjected to this test. This test is outrageous to the dignity of a female and courts should make police or medical practitioner accountable if they conduct this test on a rape survivor.

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