Indian Air Force trainee says she was raped at academy then subjected to ‘two-finger’ test by doctors

·3-min read
File: Students protest and condemn rapes in India (AFP via Getty Images)
File: Students protest and condemn rapes in India (AFP via Getty Images)

A 28-year-old woman Indian Air Force (IAF) officer was allegedly raped by her colleague and then subjected to an illegal “two-finger” test to confirm the assault in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

According to a police complaint filed by her on 20 September, the woman said she was raped on the campus of the Air Force Administrative College in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district.

The accused, 29-year-old flight lieutenant Amitesh Harmukh, was arrested and sent to judicial custody on 26 September.

In her complaint to the police, the officer alleged doctors at the Air Force Hospital (AFH) subjected her to the banned two-finger test, which violates the survivor’s right to privacy. The two-finger test, an unscientific method to ascertain rape, was banned by India’s Supreme Court in 2013.

The woman said she was also questioned about her “sexual history” and was told by college authorities that if she could bear the pain of an ankle injury which she had suffered hours before, she could also deal with the pain of seeing her rapist on campus.

The officer said she was forced to go to the police because the actions taken by the IAF were not satisfactory. She was allegedly forced to withdraw her complaint by the commandant of the college and other senior officers.

The assault took place on the night of 10 September, according to the complaint. The officer had sustained injuries on the right leg while playing basketball during training on 9 September. She took a painkiller and later joined her colleagues at the mess bar, where the accused offered to pay for a second drink.

The survivor said she vomited afterwards and two friends escorted her to her room and latched it from outside before leaving.

While she was sleeping, the accused allegedly barged into her room, tried to wake her up and kiss her. Although she kept pushing him away, she eventually failed because of her injury.

She said the next thing she remembered was a female friend asking her, the day after, if the man was in the room with her consent. The friend also pointed to semen stains on her bed.

She confronted the accused who allegedly expressed regret for “invading her privacy.”

The officer was then directed to the AFH.

“Only later did I find out that the two-finger test is not supposed to be done for a rape exam. This action made me nauseous enough to relive the trauma of being raped,” she said in the formal complaint.

The Gandhipuram police station filed a sexual assault case against the accused under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.

“The IAF is cooperating with the police investigation and is also conducting an internal inquiry. We cannot comment any further as the matter is subjudice,” the IAF said in a statement cited by news channel NDTV.

Meanwhile, the IAF on Monday approached an Additional Mahila (Women’s) Court for orders to conduct its own legal proceedings against the accused.

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