Culture

Maharashtra govt. declares virginity tests a form of sexual assault

And a punishable offence

In a progressive move, the Maharashtra government has announced that forcing women to undergo virginity tests will soon be made illegal and considered a form of sexual assault. 

The discriminatory and sexist custom is still followed by certain communities in the state. Young members of the Kanjarbhat community have been highlighting the issue via a WhatsApp group called Stop the V-Ritual, and campaigning against the alleged tradition in which a newly-married women is asked to provide proof of her virginity on her wedding night. Group member Siddhant Dashrath Indrekar (21), had approached the police with a complaint against the caste panchayat on November 25, 2017.

Now, Minister of State for Home, Ranjit Patil, has reassured activists from the Kanjarbhat community that the state government would issue a notification directing police stations to register a case of sexual harassment in cases where a woman alleges being forced to go through a virginity test.

Last week, the NCW (National Commission for Women) had expressed its serious concerns over the matter and NCW's chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote to Maharashtra's women and child welfare minister Pankaja Gopinath Munde, asking her to look into it. "The practice is regressive, misogynistic and in violation of basic human rights and dignity... I, therefore, urge your kind intervention in the matter and request that you may please ensure that the persons guilty of perpetrating such discriminatory, misogynistic practices may be appropriately punished so as to prevent such occurrences in the future," Sharma said in her letter to Munde.