You want good news? Here’s some good news. But you’re still going to be disturbed by it.
In Pakistan, where victims of sexual assault are taken even less seriously than in other countries, the Lahore High Court in the province of Punjab has banned “virginity tests,” in a move that’s being widely praised by human rights advocates.
The New York Times explains what those tests are, and the answer is horrifying.
If two fingers can be easily inserted into the vagina, supporters of the practice say, it shows that a woman is not a virgin, and thus lacks moral authority to make an assault or rape accusation.
In other words, if they think there’s evidence that you’ve had sex before, then your allegation of sexual abuse carries virtually no weight. Besides being completely unscientific and meaningless, the test suggested that women who have had sex can’t be trusted on claims of sexual assault. It also sets those alleged victims up for further shaming later on. There’s a reason such a ridiculous test has already been banned in countries like Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Such a test has previously been used on female police officers in Indonesia, and rapper T.I. generated a lot of controversy in 2019 when he claimed he asked his 18-year-old daughter’s gynecologist to perform a similar test on her to confirm her virginity. New York legislators soon proposed a bill that would punish doctors who offered those services, but the bill didn’t go anywhere.
The Pakistani court’s ruling was surprising in part because it didn’t generate much backlash in an otherwise very conservative country. Like I said, it’s good news that highlights something awful. But a step in the right direction is still progress.
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