We have been following the plight of women in India from an epidemic of rape to discrimination in marriage and advancement. The medieval mentality found in some parts of India was on display in the Gujarat High Court, which asked a rape victim to balance a 40kg rock on her head in order to ‘prove her purity’ and reside with her husband again. It is part of the bizarre ritual called “Agnipariksha,” or “test of fire.”
The woman became pregnant as a result of the rape but was denied an abortion by Gujarat High Court in India. If she passes this “sanctity test,” she would be able to live with her husband again.
The “test of fire” is the traditional way in some areas of India to prove virtue because of the view that a rape victim is considered to be “tainted.” The origins of the test is found in the Hindu poem Ramayana, in which Sita was made to sit in the fire after she had been kidnapped by a suitor.
The continued use of this practice is a disgrace to India and a shocking degradation for women.