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Pakistani court outlaws 'virginity test' for rape victims

A Pakistani court ruled that so-called virginity tests could not be performed on rape victims. Photo by arindambanerjee/Shutterstock
A Pakistani court ruled that so-called "virginity tests" could not be performed on rape victims. Photo by arindambanerjee/Shutterstock

Jan. 5 (UPI) -- A provincial Pakistani court ruled that a so-called virginity test has "no medical basis" and outlawed the practice on sexual assault victims.

The ruling late Monday by the Lahore High Court in Punjab, Pakistan's largest province by population, was the first of its kind in the country banning the practice.

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In some regions in Pakistan, the test is performed on rape victims, conducted before marriage and sometimes to even assess employment requirements. The invasive procedure includes inspecting the hymen or inserting two fingers into the vagina under the belief such methods can determine if a female is a virgin.

The court ruled the tests "offends the personal dignity of the female victim and therefore is against the right to life and right to dignity."

Justice Ayesha A. Malik called the tests "a humiliating practice" that only serves to "cast suspicion on the victim, as opposed to focusing on the accused and the incident of sexual violence."

Premarital sex is a crime in Pakistan, but the country also suffers from high rates or rape, sexual assault and other gender violence such as so-called "honor killings," human rights groups have argued.

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In 2018, the several United Nations agencies and the World Health Organization called for a halt to such tests, pointing out that at least 20 countries still legalize some form of the virginity tests and saying it has no medical value.

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