Features Monday, September 15, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 8, 2014 | 04:10 pm IST Controversial godman Swami Nithyananda underwent a potency test on Monday following a Supreme Court directive. Four doctors, including an uroandrologist and a psychiatrist, conducted the test at the Victoria Hospital. However, there are certain concerns regarding the validity and importance of the test. A potency test is a medical test, the results of which can establish whether a person (the accused in this case) is capable of engaging in sexual acts or not and whether could have committed the offence he has been charged with. However, the potency test is not clearly defined in the country along with the exact tests that are to be done under it. 'It is only medical jurisprudence that comes to the rescue', states a report by Bangalore Mirror. Dean of Government Sivaganga Medical College Dr. A. Karthikeyan said, "Male genital organs may react differently to varying situations. A man may get an erection to one woman and may not to another. It also depends on the psychology of the person."  "The first step usually is to determine whether the male genital organ is developed or not. Based on that several tests can be done. Manual stimulation, X-Ray, ultra sound can be some of the methods used", he added.  The 36-year-old self-styled godman is facing charges of rape, cheating, unnatural offences and criminal intimidation by some of his former devotees. He had earlier claimed that ‘he is like a child and not capable of having sex ’. The common tests conducted under the potency test are: Semen analysis: where the fertility of the man is examined. This test evaluates a man's semen and sperm. Penile Doppler Ultrasound: checks the blood flow into of the penis. A person can have an erection only when blood flows into the penis and not flows out of it. A report in The Wall Street Journal states, 'In the past, suspects may have even occasionally been called on to masturbate, according to the medical jurisprudence textbook, which advises against this. “Suspects/accused are regularly produced before doctors for this testing believing that a person who can ejaculate can be considered potent sexually,” said the textbook. “This repulsive practice is a violation of the dignity of a person.” Although the use of potency tests in criminal proceedings has been reported to have increased, the definition of rape has also undergone changes and it is no more mandatory for penetrative sexual intercourse to prove rape. Another self styled godman Asaram Bapu also underwent potency test in 2013 in a case which alleged that he had sexual abused a minor. He cleared the test. Impotence can be situational and driven by situational factors, something lawyers usually are not ready to consider. Also there are impotent men who with the help of medicines can have intercourse, further states The Wall Street Journal. "Very often when the government asks for a potency test, they just do a physical exam and ask for a semen test and hormone test. The doctors will go up and say 'I did this test and that test and it showed he was normal.' A man could have normal hormones and a normal sperm count but be impotent sexually and vice-versa,” Dr. Rupin S. Shah, a Mumbai-based andrologist told Wall Street Journal.   In the case of a suspect clearing or failing the potency test, it still does not prove for sure that the person did or did not commit rape. As Dr. A. Karthikeyan put it, "The potency test is not cent percent fool proof".
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