By Ila Ananya
A few days ago, the publishers of the 25th edition of Modi: A Textbook of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology, said that they had made changes to the chapters on the treatment of victims of sexual assault. The book, by Jaising Modi, was first published in 1920, and prescribed the use of the two-finger test as a must for doctors treating rape victims.
The test, to determine whether the victim is “habituated to sexual intercourse,” is absolutely irrelevant to the investigation, and current guidelines for examining victims of assault do not allow it. Previous editions of Modi: A Textbook of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology not only prescribed the two-finger test, but also told doctors to treat rape victims with suspicion, and argued that it is difficult to single-handedly rape a grown woman.
This textbook wasn’t the only one that prescribed the use of the two-finger test to medical students. Many others, like The Essentials of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology(1994), by KS Narayan Reddy, which is prescribed in many medical institutions have long paragraphs on how women who approach doctors after being raped may be lying for the purposes of “revenge or blackmail,” or because she has been “discovered by the parents or husband”. Textbooks still carry this information, and as we’d found out in our wide-ranging investigation, medical students are still being taught to be suspicious of rape victims. Being “habituated to sexual intercourse” is supposed to indicate that a woman may not be truthful about having being raped.
The new edition of Modi: A Textbook of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology has been re-written to remove the prescription of the two-finger test, and the chapters on sexual violence have been changed to broaden what is considered sexual abuse.