The India Supreme Court Monday declared that performing the “two-finger” or “three-finger” vaginal test on victims of rape or sexual assault will be classed as misconduct.Also dubbed the “virginity” test, the test consists of a medical professional inserting either two or three fingers into the victim’s vaginal canal. It is used to determine laxity, or whether the victim has had any recent sexual activity. The Supreme Court has condemned this test since the case of Lillu vs. State of Haryana in 2013.  The court determined then that this test “violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity.” Despite this, the practice continued.Monday’s ruling comes in the case of the State of Jharkhand v Shailendra Kumar Rai. It was an appeal filed against a High Court judgment which held that the “two-finger” or “three-finger” test raised uncertainty about whether the victim had been raped. The defendant was acquitted as a result.On appeal, the Supreme Court found that the test has “no scientific basis” and “neither proves nor disproves allegations of rape.” Instead, it only “re-victimises and re-traumatises” women, and “must not” be conducted.The leading judge, Dr. Dhananjaya, elaborated further on the decision:The so-called test is based on the incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped. Nothing could be further from the truth – a woman’s sexual history is wholly immaterial while adjudicating whether the accused raped her….It is patriarchal and sexist to suggest that a woman cannot be believed when she states that she was raped, merely for the reason that she is sexually active.This ruling effectively bans the test altogether, declaring that any person who performs it from now on will be guilty of misconduct. It also directs state governments to take steps towards eradicating the practice, including reviewing the curriculum at medical schools.India’s courts have made consistent efforts to protect victims of rape and sexual assault. Despite this, the country reported a nearly 13 percent increase in rape over the past year.

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