MUMBAI: A ‘virginity test’ conducted by members of the Kanjarbhat community in Pune has once again raised the hackles of activists after a two-minute video showing the social practice surfaced recently.
In the video, a jaat panchayat, or group of elders, are seen asking a recently married boy if he could confirm that the girl he had married was indeed a virgin.
In conformity with the social practice, the groom is heard saying “samadhan hai” (yes satisfied) thrice after which the girl and boy’s relatives are seen offering money to the community.Confirming the incident, Sunil Malke, a former Congress corporator and businessman in Pune, said the video was from his son’s marriage last week. The girl also belongs to a well-off family.
“He (my son) was asked whether he was satisfied with the marriage and he admitted that. I don’t think there is anything wrong in it,” Malke said. He said the ritual could not be called a virginity test. “It has nothing to do with virginity tests. We are a respectable family and I’m opposed to such things,” Malke said, adding that certain people jealous of his stature were trying to tarnish his and his community’s image.
Brides being subjected to a virginity test are not new among the Kanjarbhat community of Maharashtra.
Earlier, a groom had to produce blood-stained bed sheets before the jaat panchayat to prove that the girl he had married was a virgin. But after a sustained campaign by social activists against the practice, the virginity test has been modified. Now the groom, after the first night with the bride, only has to testify to her virginity by saying “samadhan hai” thrice.
“This is a 450-year-old ritual in our community. A girl who doesn’t bleed on her wedding night can be subjected to beating, humiliation or even divorce and her family can be made to pay a hefty fine,” said Vivek Tamaichkar of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences who has been working against the ritual.
A girl is told about the family tradition and her consent is sought. It (the test) is done before members of the family and not the whole community. Certain people are trying to tarnish the image of our community. This is being done by certain publicity seekers Vishnu Bhat, Kanjarbhat community leader