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What is The Purpose of a Potency Test?

Suspended Jantadal secular leader and rape accused MP Prajwal Ravana is arrested from Bangalore airport and the special investigation team is likely to have him take medical tests including potency tests.

Time and again we have heard of potency tests in the news. So, what is a potency test? A potency test is conducted to examine whether a male has the capacity to develop or maintain a penile erection to be able to perform a sexual act.

This medical evidence is brought in cases involving sexual assault, divorce and even in paternity suits. In divorce and paternity cases, a fertility test along with a potency test is commonly done. So, what is the relevance of this test in sexual assault cases?

In sexual assault cases, the prosecution brings a potency test report to the court to counter any potential defence from the accused that he is incapable of sexual intercourse. Such a defence however is far from full-proof.

Potency is not permanent and can vary depending on several physiological and psychological factors. Just because a man is unable to develop or sustain an erection at the time of the test does not mean that he cannot do so at other times.

Thus reports submitted in court simply indicate whether the accused is capable of sexual intercourse or not. at the time of the test and only have corroborative value. Prior to 2013, Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, IPC, that defined rape was limited to a pinot -vaginal intercourse.

Intercourse would often be the benchmark to determine if the offence involved rape or a lesser crime. However, after 2013, criminal law amendments, the definition of rape was expanded. Now under the law, rape includes penetration of any object, mouth to mouth. Now under the law, rape includes penetration of any object, mouth to any part of the body of a woman. A non -pinot -vaginal contact does not necessarily need a test of potency at all.

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