Pakistan has banned an extremely controversial and unscientific practice of allegedly verifying the virginity of women. The so-called “two-finger tests” are illegal and violate the Pakistani constitution, said the high court in the eastern city of Lahore.
In invasive practice, doctors want to check whether the hymen is intact in rape victims, for example. According to the United Nations (UN), the tests, which have been carried out for decades, have no scientific or clinical basis.
For two years now, the UN has been calling for an end to the so-called virginity tests. The tests increase gender inequality, according to human rights activists. The appearance of the hymen of girls or women cannot prove whether they have had intercourse or are sexually active, the UN said. The examination could also be painful, humiliating and traumatic. The court also followed this line of argument.
In Pakistan, human rights activists launched a petition in March to end the practice. The Ministry of Law and Justice had already recommended in October that the tests should not be part of criminal investigations.
“Virginity tests” are considered to be a violation of human rights internationally. They are outlawed under Article 7 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 16 of the Convention against Torture. Pakistan has ratified both treaties.
In December, laws against rapists were tightened in Pakistan. In the future, sex offenders will face chemical castration or the death penalty in particularly serious cases of rape or child abuse. The new regulations are seen as a reaction to several sex crimes that sparked outrage in the South Asian country.