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Bible of forensic medicine drops two-finger test to establish rape

Outlawed two years ago, the two-finger test to establish rape is finally a closed chapter in India. The textbook that prescribed it as a must, and, for years set the tone for rape trials, has now removed it. The 25th edition of MODI A Textbook of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology — first published in 1920 by Dr. Jaising Modi, a professor of medical jurisprudence in Agra — also introduces changes to make both doctors and the judiciary sensitive to rape cases.

The latest edition of the book — considered the Bible of forensic medicine by doctors and criminal lawyers — has also set the treatment of rape survivor as a priority for doctors. Significantly, it underlines the need for sensitivity while dealing with rape cases and broadens the scope of sexual abuse by including people with alternate sexual orientations, sex workers and children.

This is a far cry from the earlier editions that criminalised homosexuality saw the rape victim through the lens of suspicion of making a false claim, and mandated the two-finger test.

Dual responsibility

The chapter on sexual offences, which has been completely rewritten, now notes: “The healthcare providers have a dual responsibility to the rape survivor. The first is to provide the survivor with medical and psychological treatment and care, while the second is to assist the victim in medico-legal proceedings.”

The book has been part of the syllabus of postgraduate students of forensic medicine for years. Its paperback edition was released in April this year, and the hardback volume was brought out by the end of 2015.

“It was time to rewrite the chapters. A lot of consultation was done, and this is the first time the book has been overhauled,” said Supriti Narayanan, associate director (content creation and acquisition), LexisNexis India, the book’s publisher.

Edited by Justice K. Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the book has taken into account the recommendations for change made by various activists, doctors and gender experts.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 12:15:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Bible-of-forensic-medicine-drops-two-finger-test-to-establish-rape/article14380493.ece

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