A court in Pakistan’s most populous province on Monday outlawed virginity tests on rape victims — a longstanding practice in the country used to assess a woman’s so-called honour.
Critics of the tests, including an invasive “two-finger test”, had filed petitions in the eastern city of Lahore in a bid to have them outlawed.
Proponents of virginity tests claim they can assess a woman’s sexual history, with the results often used to discredit rape victims.
Much of Pakistani society operates under an oppressive system of honour, in which rape victims face social stigma and assaults are vastly underreported.
The ruling was a “much-needed step in the right direction of improving the investigative and judicial processes and making them fairer for victims of sexual assault and rape,” a statement released by the lawyers behind the petition said.
Pakistan’s president had already moved to ban the two-finger virginity test — an invasive examination which involves a medical examiner inserting two fingers into a woman’s vagina — in December as part of a new anti-rape law.
But it allowed for visual inspections of the hymen to assess tearing and scars to continue.
The Lahore High Court ruling banning all forms of virginity testing will apply to Punjab province and is the first of its kind in Pakistan
Neighbouring India banned the two-finger test in 2013 and Bangladesh followed suit in 2018.
© Agence France-Presse