The governor of Tamil Nadu, Ravindra Narayana Ravi made unsettling revelations about how minor women have been compelled to bear the two-finger check, often known as the virginity check, by the state administration in an effort to defame the Podhu Dikshithars, in an explosive interview with the Times of India. Podhu Dikshithars are the hereditary monks and custodians of Sri Sabanayagar Temple, popularly often called Lord Nataraja Temple.
Governor Ravi claimed that officers from Tamil Nadu's Social Welfare Department lodged complaints of child marriage against temple Dikshitars out of revenge. “Out of vengeance, government officers of the social welfare department lodged eight complaints of child marriage against the Podhu Dikshithars, that they were marrying their children underage, whereas there were no such marriages,” Governor Ravi said.
“Parents were arrested and put behind prisons. And the girls, sixth and seventh standard students, were forcibly taken from home to the hospitals and made to undergo ‘two-finger tests,’ virginity tests. Some of them tried to commit suicide,” he revealed. He claimed to have written a letter to the chief minister raising concerns about the heinous experience.
After Governor Ravi highlighted the issue, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) headed by Priyank Kanoongo, has taken suo-moto cognizance and asked the Chief Secretary to inquire into the matter, ensuring that the victims’ identities should not be disclosed and send the factual action taken report along with documents, including a copy of FIR lodged by the Social Welfare Department on complaints of child marriages, report on action taken against the accused, status regarding the arrest of parents and follow up legal action, details about producing minor children before the medical officer.
Chandrashekhar, the legal counsel who handled the case for Podhu Dikshitars, said that the Tamil Nadu Police filed cases against several Dikshitars in February 2022 and that the temple administration does not encourage such practices.
"The temple administration only allows those above the age of 21 to conduct Chandramouleshwara puja. But the opposite parties who were against the temple administration had been making false claims that we are encouraging child marriage," Chandrashekhar said.
Regarding the two-finger test, Chandrashekhar said that the case was filed under Sections 16 and 17 of the Child Marriage Prohibition Act, with a maximum punishment of two years, and there was no need for an arrest.
"In these cases, the Dikshitars were arrested, and several banned examinations were made on the children, which were banned by the Supreme Court and Madras High Court. Specifically, in one instance, Tamil Nadu Police exceeded and violated the law laid down by the Supreme Court and also by the High Court and conducted a two-finger test on a victim child, which was not necessary for this particular offense," he alleged.
Chandrashekhar said the police did so to convert the case and bring it under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Chandrashekhar called it a case of human rights violation.
The two-finger test involves a medical expert inserting two fingers into the rape victim's vagina in order to "test the laxity of the vagina" and establish whether the hymen is ruptured. The test is often used to categorize rape victims as having a sex habit. It is used to disprove the rape claim, either to imply that the victim lied about the rape, to suggest that the rape was not harmful, or to argue that the victim is morally repugnant and hence not entitled to justice. The faulty test's application has drawn criticism from all over the world.
Image source: ABP News