October 11, 2010

Times of India

Soon, a manual for docs, police to handle sexual assault cases

MUMBAI: The state government will shortly bring out a manual specifying the rules that the police and healthcare providers should follow while dealing with victims of sexual violence. This step has been taken to nail culprits who many a time go scot-free owing to faulty procedure of collecting evidence and victims turning hostile.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, from 1990 to 2008, rape cases have increased by 112% and officials said it was time to have the procedures tighter so that the culprits can, in no way, evade punishment.

Three departments of the state are working in tandem to draw the manual, which will be ready in a month, that will be used to train medical officers and the police in how to be better equipped to build water-tight cases for sexual assault. The home department, the department of medical education and research and the directorate of health services have held a series of meetings and a few more are lined up before the draft is finalized.

A forensic science expert attached with the team emphasized on how hospitals did not have specific format or a list of tests required to ensure proper collection of evidence and that often diluted the cases. "All hospitals do their own things and in the end, sometimes, officials fail to collect the evidence properly," said the expert. However, an official said, the new list would hopefully redefine the ways in which the case details would be recorded so that the transfer of an officer would not hamper the probe.

Police surgeon Dr S M Patil, who is also working on the manual, said the main idea was to bring in uniformity in the way doctors and police handled sexual assault cases. "We are looking to make it easier for victims to lodge their complaints or approach medical officers for help," he said, adding that training of doctors was an important part of the programme.

Human rights and healthcare activists have time and again criticized the methods followed by healthcare providers who concentrate more on collecting forensic evidence and finishing paperwork rather than the need for therapeutic care. But psycho-social help was of utmost importance, said Padma Devasthali, coordinator of Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes. "Every victim has the right to treatment," she said, criticizing the mechanical approach of doctors while treating patients of assault. Devasthali added that proper counselling at that hour helps many victims make up their mind whether or not to pursue litigation.

The manual is also likely to take a stricter stand on the dilemma of doctors who refuse to treat victims till the latter had lodged a police complaint. "This attitude does intimidate and discourage the victims from pursuing treatment or legal action," said a medical officer from JJ Hospital.

1 comment:

Dr Indrajit Khandekar said...

This news appears to be incomplete. The actual facts are: The move of the government comes on a Public Interest Litigation filed on study report of 258 pages of Dr. Indrajit Khandekar; Assistant Professor, Forensic Medicine Dept ,Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences Sevagram, Wardha (MH)entitled “Pitiable and Horrendous quality of Forensic Medical Examination of Sexually Assaulted Victims in India” by a Chairperson Child Welfare Committee Dr. Ranjana Paradhi and Adv Vijay Patait.
On 1 st FEBRUARY, 2010 Justice A. P. LAVANDE & P. D. KODE (Mumbai High Court- Nagpur bench) had issued notice to the Central and State Govt on this PIL. After this government had submitted the proforma and some guidelines to the court. These were challenged by the petitioners and submitted to the court the problems identified by me after critical analysis pertaining to these proforma and guidelines. Petitioners also submitted the proforma and instruction manual drafted by myself. On this Hon’ble Court- Mumbai- Nagpur Bench (Justice S.A. BOBDE & MRS. MRIDULA BHATKAR) directed the govet to study the materials submitted by the petitioners. Now the hearing is on 13.10.2010. recently CEHAT has filed their intervention application which has been allowed by the court. if anyone needs details can contact me: Email- ilkhandekar@yahoo.co.in Cell 09823029293