Pune: "My 'Kaumarya Pariksha' was conducted soon after my marriage ceremony and I was declared 'Jhooti' after it as I didn't bleed," said Yogita Karalekar, 22, a victim of the infamous virginity test.
Karalekar goes on the explain how the test is conducted.
In Kaumarya Pariksha the girl is sent inside the room, after which an elderly woman from the groom's family comes in the room to take her ornaments and do a body search after stripping the girl completely to check whether she is hiding any sharp object. The same procedure is conducted with the groom in the presence of an elderly man. A white cloth is given to the couple to sleep on during the wedding night.
"Meanwhile, Panchs (elderly) belonging to community sits outside the room and celebrate by drinking alcohol, and asking the groom “maal khara aahe ki khota (is the girl pure or impure)," she elaborated.
Next day or sometime in the night, a Panchayat is organised in which the Panchs questions the groom whether the girl is virgin or impure and they validate it by examining the white cloth. If they do not find blood stains on the cloth they term the girl as 'Jhooti' or impure.
Karalekar's husband, Arjun, though accepted her under the pressure of police but subjected her to physical abuse for two years and left her.
Karalekar and her 11-month-old son are living at her parents' house in Sangamner. Her husband had declared her impure in front of the community heads. "He left after the marriage but came back after 12 days as a complaint was filed at a police station in Nashik."
“At his home in Ojhar, he used to beat me, and say that I am a characterless woman. I complained thrice at Ojhar police station. I became like a punching bag for my husband and was never treated with respect by my in-laws."
Chaya Tamaichekar, 30, from Kanjarbhat community in Nashik, said, “Every girl of Kanjarbhat community has to go through this humiliation. Right from getting stripped for body search to presenting the white cloth in front of Panchayat and being questioned by them is like someone stripping you bit by bit in public view.”
She further said, “But we cannot do anything about it. If we oppose it, we will be boycotted by the community. Nobody will marry our brothers and sisters."
It is significant to note that once the girl is marked impure and the groom doesn’t want to continue with her, he has to bear half the marriage expenses. However, if he is ready to accept her, the Panchs let them leave with the warning to the girl to stay away from adultery in future.
Petition in HC
Krishna Chandgude, a member of Andhashraddha Nirmalun Samiti, who is fighting against the Jaat Panchayats in Maharashtra since four years, said, “Such rituals by Jaat panchayat in Maharashtra were exposed by Dr Narendra Dabholkar. These communities should not indulge in violence and should indulge in dialogue. Such kind of superstitions is going on despite the legal Acts against it. After this assault on the members of ‘Stop the V’ group, we have decided to file a petition in Mumbai High Court to stop the virginity test.”
What is 'Stop The V' campaign?
- Kaumarya Parkiksha (virginity test) - an archaic and barbaric culture that has ruined the lives of many girls - is a ritual practised by Kanjarbhat community across the country.
- It is now in the news after a few youngsters from Kanjarbhat community were beaten up in Pimpri for their social media campaign on ‘Stop the V’ against this ritual.
- 'Stop the V' is active on Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram.
- ‘Stop the V’ has around 50 members including boys and girls.
- "We have received threats online after we started our opposition against the virginity test," said Krishna Indrekar, a member of the group. "Comments on our Facebook page say we are anti-social elements hell-bent on destroying the culture of Kanjarbhat community. Someone commented that we should be assaulted or killed."
- "Many groups in Nandurbar, Kolhapur, Nashik, Satara are against this campaign against virginity test and want to oppose and even eliminate us", Indrekar said.