Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 7 (ANI): The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Saturday has directed the Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta to conduct a thorough inquiry into the abominable phenomenon of the continuance of virginity tests among the people of Kanjarbhat community.
A report for its record with regard to the steps taken by the state government to curb such a custom from being followed will also be submitted, according to a press release.
The order was passed by the apex human rights watchdog, adjudicating a petition filed by rights campaigner and civil liberties lawyer and Supreme Court advocate, Radhakanta Tripathy.
The petitioner, Tripathy contended that in the Kanjarbhat community in the state, the girls after their marriage have to pass a virginity or chastity test and the husbands are entitled to annul the marriage then and there if they find their wives non-virgin.
"The girls in this situation are brutally beaten for having a physical relationship in the past. To spread awareness, the WhatsApp group has been created to curb this menace, however, one of the group members recorded an incident where the members of the panchayat took bribes from a couple to legalise their marriage by clearing them of the virginity test," Tripathy said.
He further alleged that despite the authorities being aware of the said practice, they have failed to take any action against it.
Pursuant to the notice of NHRC, the state authorities submitted that after getting the information of virginity test the administration discussed the issue with volunteers and the non-governmental organisation (NGO) group.
Tripathy further said, "Since the victimisation of such practice could not be established, it cannot be presumed that the chastity test still continues among the people of Kanjarbhat community."
In his rejoinder, Tripathy pointed out the prevalence of chastity test is clear from the fact that the same has been mentioned in the Maharashtra state assembly.
However, the report submitted by the state does not mention the steps taken by the administration to curb the practice of the test and spread awareness among the people of the community.
The report also does not mention the minutes of the meeting that took place with the activists who have been fighting against the obnoxious practice.
The NHRC asked the Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioner of Police in Pune to apprise the commission, within four weeks of the minutes of the meeting that took place with the activists and the steps taken by the State government to curb the practice.
In similar cases moved by Advocate Tripathy on virginity or chastity test practised among other communities in Rajasthan and Gujarat, the NHRC conducted an inquiry, the state authorities admitted the same as an old practice but as none of the victims came forward to testify, the NHRC closed all cases.
"Since the matter has already been raised before the state assembly and volunteer groups are actively working on it, there s a ray of hope for justice now," Tripathy added. (ANI)