Action sought against ‘virginity tests’

Action sought against ‘virginity tests’

Forced virginity tests? This seems to be a practice in certain ‘panchayats’ in Maharsahtra, where newly married couples are forced to undergo a humiliating ‘virginty test’. to know more, read on:

The Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), founded by the late Narendra Dabholkar, has sought the State government’s intervention after yet another case of a forced ‘virginity test’ on a newly married woman from the Kanjarbhat community in Pune came to light on Thursday.

Despite their education and social mobility, the newlyweds were allegedly subjected to the humiliating practice by a ‘community panchayat’ (tribunal) after their wedding in Mundhwa on December 30.

The issue was raised by the MANS and a State government officer, Krushna Indrekar, who belongs to the Kanjarbhat community. Mr. Indrekar has written to Ranjit Patil, Minister of State for Home, claiming that the couple was subjected to the ‘virginity test’ under pressure of the Kanjarbhat panchayat.

Nandini Jadhav of the MANS said, “In this case, the groom, who had returned after finishing his studies in London, was the son of a former corporator while the bride was an interior designer and daughter of a retired government official. It is indeed shocking how such regressive practices continue within the community despite the social mobility of its youth.”

The MANS has already written to State Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole about the matter. Mr. Badole has promised prompt action.

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Ms. Jadhav said the main deterrent in booking illicit caste tribunals is the absence of a formal complaint from the victims or their families. “As a result of the pressure and dread of social boycott, they hesitate before lodging a formal complaint. This makes it hard for law enforcement agencies to intervene,” she said.

She said the MANS will meet the Pune Police Commissioner and urge him to direct police stations to register complaints under the Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016.

‘No proof’

Meanwhile, Ganesh Machhare, a Kanjarbhat community leader, strongly refuted all allegations regarding a forced ‘virginity test’. Mr. Machhare said the activists had no proof showing that a virginity test was being conducted by an illicit caste tribunal.

There have been complaints about the community’s bridal ‘virginity test’ being forcibly imposed by illegal caste tribunals in the past as well.

In January last year, three youths from the community were badly beaten up in Pimpri-Chinchwad for voicing opposition against the test. In December 2017, progressive youngsters from the community created a WhatsApp group titled ‘Stop the V-Ritual’ against the tribunal’s regressive practice.

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