Virginity checks barred by Pakistani courts for female rape survivors

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The “degrading” practice was used by the judge to deflect blame and divert attention from the act of sexual assault to the victim.

A Pakistani court prohibited the practice of subjecting female rape survivors to a virginity test in an unprecedented ruling. On Monday, the Lahore High Court ruled that the virginity test has no legal justification and “violates the personal dignity of the female victim. ” In her decision, Justice Ayesha Malik said, “The virginity test is highly invasive and has no scientific or medical premise, but is conducted in the name of medical protocols in cases of sexual violence. ” The UN said in a 2018 study that virginity tests, a medically dubious internal inspection of the hymen of a woman, still take place in 20 countries and can be done in cases of rape or where a woman is accused of a “moral” offense such as premarital sex or running away with or without consent. Premarital sex remains a crime for both men and women in Pakistan and is punishable by five years in prison. “The test is part of a larger patriarchy structure that links victimhood to the character of women and perpetuates the ‘perfect victim’ myth,” Nighat Dad, a lawyer and rights activist, told the Guardian. “The barriers to reporting rape cases are insurmountable for women, but this historic decision will go a long way to breaking down those barriers,” she said. She said in October.

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