Virginity Tests- A Sexual Assault
In a landmark move, Maharashtra Government has declared the virginity test as a form of sexual assault. The judgement which was started as a movement by two people from the Kanjarbhat community, Aishwarya and Vivek Tamaichikar, was greeted by a lot backlash and boycott by the same community they are a part of. Kanjarbhat community is a community residing in Pimpri-Chinchwad area of Maharashtra where the custom of virginity tests is a must when a couple gets married. The couple Aishwarya and Vivek Tamaichikar started the movement with a Whatsapp group called “STOP THE V RITUAL” which gathered people to abolish this archaic ritual.
What is the virginity ritual?
The ritual is that after a couple gets married, they are taken to a hotel/motel and the groom is given a white sheet that must be used while the couple engages in a sexual intercourse and the bride must bleed on it. Before entering the room the bride is frisked thoroughly by the female relatives to check if the bride is not carrying any sharp object which can cause bleeding in case she doesn’t bleed during the intercourse. The bedsheets are then presented after their first wedding night to the groom’s mother which must have a blood stain on it which is further presented to the village panchayat who examine the bedsheet carefully. If the couple fails to produce the “proof” of the girl’s virginity to the panchayat the marriage is declared invalid and the bride is subjected to a lot of torture and harassment at the hands of the community.
When the bride fails this ridiculous test of her “purity” she is assumed to have engaged in premarital sex, deemed impure, tortured and may be ostracised by the community. The mornings after the marriage are the hardest because many are beaten, threatened, confined and bruised with household items. Then the girl’s family either take the girl back or pay an outlandish amount of money to the panchayat and the groom’s family for accepting a girl with a sexual past.
The ritual was started 400 years ago by the Kanjarbhat community as a way to berate their community’s women from engaging in sexual acts with the men from other communities and today it has taken a violent turn. The ritual is nothing but a source of entertainment for the men. At the receiving end are the women who have been treated like doormats and they continue to treat the upcoming generations like this because of lack of empowerment in their community.
Now let us tell you why is it wrong?
This ritual is wrong because we do not live in archaic or medieval times anymore. The Constitution of India promises its citizen few basic fundamental rights like right to equality, freedom of speech and expression, right to freedom and right against exploitation. And this ritual not only contradicts these rights but also makes a mockery out of the laws which promise us these rights. Secondly, all the citizens of this country have every right to indulge in any consensual sexual act the way they want without being subjected to questioning and abuse.
This ritual is humiliating, when the country is progressing on the economic level with our GDP increasing every year but on the cultural front we still lack basic respect for the women of our own country.
The ritual is daunting, in a country where women are making their mark in all the sectors and climbing the ladder of success and this ritual slaps them right down, making them realise that they can never be greater than their gender.
This ritual is a tight slap for the government and the law makers who were made to realise this certain fact by 2 college students that this ritual still exists in the 21st century while they are busy hurling abuses at the opposition party.
This ritual is biologically incorrect since virginity is a social construct and there is no definition of the same in medical sciences in addition to not having any scientific basis.
We laud the Government of Maharashtra for taking the right step before things could turn even worse. We salute the efforts of Aishwarya, Priyanka and Vivek Tamaichikar for going against their community and doing the needful.
We hope that other state governments wake up before women of this country find it impossible to sustain oneself before the atrocities that they put up with every day.