Powered by

Home Society

Sansi Tribe’s Kukari Ki Ras Bloody Virginity Test in Rajasthan

The worth of a woman's 'purity' within traditional Sansi Tribe customs of Kukadi Pratha in Rajasthan. Indian traditions and culture that still

By Ground report
New Update
Sansi Tribe’s Kukari Ki Ras Bloody Virginity Test in Rajasthan

The real ornament of woman is her character, her purity (Mahatma Gandhi )

What’s the worth of a woman’s ‘purity?’ It’s an interesting question because of its absolute absurdity. It wants to quantify an abstract concept in monetary terms only to use it as a weapon against a newlywed. It unpacks several stigmas in society against sexual liberation and freedom of choice for women. At the same time, the question is inherently demeaning, reducing an entire being to a wad of cash. Unfortunately, Sansi, a local tribe of  Rajasthan, claims to have the answer. 

Kukadi Pratha is a proof that the society is not ready to give up some customs and traditions even when it is said that women have been given a high place in the traditions and culture of India. This is the name given to the virginity test of the new bride. What if the woman fails the test? You will have to face a lot of cruelty and insults.

‘Kukadi Pratha’ is a custom of the Sansi tribe of Rajasthan. It has been going on for centuries as a social evil. Kukadi Pratha is still practiced in communities like Kanjarbhat in Maharashtra. During the honeymoon of a married couple, spread a white bedspread on the bed and ‘set the stage’ for the test. Along with this, a clean white thread (kukadi) is placed on the bed. It is believed that if the newlyweds enter into a relationship, the maiden’s hymen will break and blood will be seen on the bed sheets and thread. The Kukadi Pratha ceremony is completed the next morning when the family members find blood on the mat and thread. It is also known as ‘Kukari Ki Ras’.

If there are no traces of blood on the sheet, then the girl is considered to be characterless or impure.

This practice started in the era of the British i.e. when some foreigners came to India, they forcibly made physical relations with the women of India and used to throw them anywhere.

So in such a situation, the people here always looked at women with suspicion. In such a situation, a thread called Kukdi was used to test the virginity of women.

If the bloodstain is not found, things will get worse. The young woman is considered to be inauspicious or impure. The in-laws will start harassing the young woman. For not being a virgin, the husband’s parents beat the girl. She will be forced to confess in front of the Khap Panchayat that she had a relationship with someone else earlier. Most of the girls will confess themselves to be ‘wrong’ in front of the khap after being beaten by their in-laws, even if they are not related to anyone

There is a water test and a fire test

This is the process of checking whether a woman or girl is a virgin or not. The purpose is to find out if you have ever had sexual intercourse. There is a ‘water test’ that tests how long you can hold your head under water. Ordeal by fire is another. The girl has to prove her virginity by holding a hot iron in her hand. Failing this, he will have to publicly name his ex-partners.

Next is the two finger test. The Madras High Court recently intervened in the ‘two finger’ test which has been the subject of much discussion and controversy. The Madras High Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu government to subject girls who have been sexually assaulted to a ‘two-finger’ test and to bar medical experts from doing so. A division bench consisting of Justices R. Subramanian and N. Satish Kumar, who considered the petition filed by the accused seeking to avoid life imprisonment in the case of sexually assaulting a minor girl, said that the ‘misconduct’ should be stopped.

The bench also observed in this case that this test is still used in cases involving sexual offences, especially against minors. Testing violates the right to privacy, physical and mental dignity of the living. Even though the Supreme Court and several High Courts have said that this is unconstitutional, the High Court has expressed its deep displeasure that it is still continuing in the country. Earlier, the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) intervened in the matter.

What is two finger test?

This is a physical examination in which the doctor inserts two fingers into the vagina of the rape survivor and checks whether the hymen is intact. Vaginal muscle relaxation is tested to determine if intercourse has occurred. This test is supposed to tear the hymen of those who engage in sexual intercourse and detect changes in the shape of the female genitalia. The assessment of the World Health Organization and others is that it cannot be scientifically proven whether a woman has had sexual intercourse or not.

In May 2013, the Supreme Court banned the two-finger test. The Supreme Court also called for better medical procedures to confirm rape. It has also been declared that the living are entitled to legal aid that does not impair their mental and physical integrity and dignity. However, it continues to be unaffected in the country. The 2-finger test was often based on the premise that the hymen would only be cut if the woman engaged in sexual intercourse.

Not only is this morally wrong, but the argument is flawed. Whether a woman has had sex cannot be defined by the condition of her hymen alone. Studies in various medical journals point out that hymens can be torn for a variety of reasons, from cycling to masturbation. Research has shown that an intact hymen does not rule out sexual abuse and a damaged hymen does not indicate past sexual activity. Some women may not be born with a hymen. Health experts and social workers point out that medical science is re-punishing those who once went through sexual violence through such tests.

In 2013 in Madhya Pradesh, 350 newly-weds who participated in a community marriage conducted by the government were subjected to virginity tests. It was in Harad village of Betul district. The government officials were suggesting that an inspection be conducted. A case was filed against Shahadol District Collector, District Panchayat Officer and Panchayat Deputy Director on the complaint of Gortara villager of Shahadol district. It has been alleged that people who have been married before are taking part in community marriages again to get government benefits. Check those who could have prevented this.

Humiliation for women, profit for men

Kukkadi Pratha has a history of centuries. It is generally believed that Kukkadi Pratha became strong after the arrival of the British in India. Some of the foreigners, including the British, had forced physical relations with women and then abandoned them. In this case, in some communities like the Rajputs, the husband’s parents insisted that the daughter-in-law should not have had physical relations with anyone before. One argument is that this is how the Kukadi system came into effect for virginity testing.

This was later followed by the Sansi tribal community of Rajasthan and the people of other states. The practice has continued unchanged even in modern times. It is interesting to note that the purpose is to test the chastity of women but for most it is a means of making money. A wife who has lost her virginity makes husbands happy. The reason is that more money can be charged as ‘fine’ from the family of the girl who failed the virginity test.

Is virginity testing only in India? Healthline, a leading US medical media, says otherwise. Countries like the US, Canada, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Afghanistan have at least a variety of ‘Kukati’. It’s just that the punishment for women who fail the test varies from country to country.

Many argue that virginity testing is a patriarchal concept. Such testing is against humanitarian ethics and medical ethics. It also violates the privacy of Atijeetha. Through this, women bear the burden of the moral lesson imposed by the society that single women should be virgins and it is a recognition of their character quality. There is also the double standard of not having such moral obligations on the man’s side. This test, which is only performed on women, is mostly done without consent.

Why do kukadis continue in the 21st century? The reality is that there is no effective law in India to prevent this practice. A woman who is a victim of ‘Kukadi Pratha’ has to face a lot of cruelty.

Most of the women have to endure this ritual and suffering for the rest of their lives.Women should make themselves strong to fight for their own until it will be...

Prof. Ramya is an Assistant Professor & Tribal Researcher Department of English, P.K.R Arts College for Women. Erode Dt, Tamil Nadu,Mail: [email protected].

Keep Reading

Follow Ground Report for Climate Change and Under-Reported issues in India. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterKoo AppInstagramWhatsapp and YouTube. Write us on [email protected].