While the world talks about feminism and breaking stereotypes towards women, there still exists, in a major part of villages in India which believes in virginity test. To know if a girl is a virgin or not after marriage is of utmost importance to these communities who have made their own set of rules which evades into a woman’s privacy. All the tests are to check if the hymen is intact which is traumatising and humiliating for the women. Recently, a man from Nashik abandoned his wife after she failed the virginity test. The customs still continue to bind the country and shows the reality of villages in the country today. Here are some of the virginity tests that are done on women even today in India:
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To ensure a woman is a virgin three kinds of tests are done on her: the fire test, the water test, and the oath giving.
1. Pani ki Dheej (purity by water)
To ensure a woman is virgin, certain communities make woman hold her breath under water while someone walks a hundred steps. The International Rehabilitation Centre for Torture victims describes it as a “gross violation of women’s rights and one that may amount to ill-treatment and torture under international law.”
2. Agnipariksha (trial by fire)
In agnipariksha, the bride has to carry a red-hot iron in her hand. Woman who are unable to do the task or leave it in mid-way are considered impure. The woman who fail virginity test are forced to disclose the name of their partners. In some cases, female doctors are asked conduct the test.
3. Kukri ki rasam (stained bed-sheet)
To make sure, the woman is virgin, on the first night of the marriage a white thread is placed on the bed, when the couple consummate their marriage. The following morning, elders of the family locate traces of blood on it. While in some communities, members of their community wait outside the room in which the couple have sex. They are expected to show a blood-stained bedsheet which will prove that the girl was a virgin.
4. Two-finger test
Another commonly known virginity test is the two-finger test. This was earlier generally used to check rape victims. The Supreme Court of India has held the test on a rape victim in the past. Human Rights Watch criticised the test as ‘degrading and unscientific’. In two-finger test, often older women search for a hymen using their fingers. However, it is unscientific as there is no accurate way to check the laxity of vaginal muscles if a girl is habituate to intercourse.
While these are the practices, if woman does not pass the virginty test, then she is obliged to declare the name of the person with whom she had sexual relations. After which the family members of the girl or the man whose name she declared are required to pay compensation to the in-laws family, so that, they can accept an ‘impure bride’. If the family does not agree to pay, the issue is taken to the panchayat. Then the community council accuses the girl and her family members are given an opportunity to prove the girl is a virgin in front of the community. (Image credits- moroccantimes.com)