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Asaram Bapu sexual assault: How are tests for impotence conducted?

Written by Nirmalya Dutta |Updated : March 9, 2015 7:09 PM IST

Controversial preacher Asaram Bapu who tried to wiggle out of the sexual assault case by claiming he was impotent was subject to a potency test and deemed sexually fit. The police said Asaram's testing positive gives them strong 'circumstantial medical evidence' that the spiritual guru could be capable of sexually assault. The godman was accused by one of his followers of molesting his minor 16-year-old daughter.

Jodhpur commissioner of police Biju Gorge Joseph said a team of doctors was called to the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary headquarters where Asaram was questioned. 'A potency test was conducted on him, which confirmed that he was strong enough to commit the crime of sexual assault and rape on the 16-year-old girl,' said Joseph.

Another senior police officer said this was 'normal procedure'. Potency test proves in a rape case that the offender is capable of committing the crime, he said. A medical team from SN Medical College also examined him and found him healthy putting paid to his son's view that his father was unwell and there is nothing that can prevent the investigation from proceeding.

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How does an erection occur?

Technically speaking, an erection is caused due to the hydraulic effect of blood entering and being retained in spongy bodies within the penis. In most males, this happens when they're sexually aroused thanks to signals transmitted from the brain to nerves in the penis. Both the brain (to send a signal) and the heart (to pump blood to the penis) must work properly to get and maintain an erection. ED occurs whenever any of the proceedings are disrupted.

Impotence and infertility are not the same

Before we can explain how an impotency test works you've to understand the difference between impotency and infertility. Impotency is permanent erectile dysfunction, which means that a person's penis can't get erect under any conditions while infertility is the inability to have children. Now claiming one is impotent would mean that they would under no circumstances be able to get an erection. Here are some common tests used to determine that:

Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT) Test

The NPT test checks whether a man is getting an erection during sleep. According to WebMD, most men even those who've psychological problems can still get erections during deep sleep. The test involves putting a simple ring-like device made of plastic films around the penis which will break if an erection is achieved. Another way to observe this is through electric monitoring devices which gives a more accurate and detailed information about erections during sleep.

Intracavernosal injection test

This test involves the doctor injecting a medicine into base of the penis to make it erect and is called an intercavernosal injection. Once erect, the fullness and length of the erection are maintained.

Doppler Ultrasound Test

The test relies on a tool which uses reflected sound waves to estimate the spend direction of blood flow in the vessel. This helps gauge whether a man is capable of an erection or not.

Our two cents

One thing we are having trouble wrapping our head around is why impotency came into the picture at all. Are men whose non-functioning penises incapable of sexually assaulting a woman? We need to really get rid of the archaic notions we have about rape and sexual assault. There's nothing sexual about it and is just a crime of violence.

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