Guidelines and protocols for medico legal care for survivors/victims of sexual violence have been released by the Ministry of Health and family Welfare. The guidelines have specifically been drawn up for rape cases, although the same could be used for other cases as well. They are aimed at doctors who might be indulged in handling female victims of sexual assault/ rape. It lays down that such a victim cannot be denied treatment by Government or private hospitals when they approach them as denial has lately been made a cognizable criminal offence punishable with appropriate jail terms or fines or both.
The rape law in the country has been made more stringent, with zero tolerance for offenders. These guidelines aim to maintain a sensitive and humane approach to such victims, their proper treatment apart from attending or treating doctors responsibility and duty in recording and documenting the medical aspects in order that such cases when they come up before the criminal justice system are not found wanting in the quality of evidence produced by the prosecution during trial.
There have been instances where poor conviction in rape cases has occurred due to absence of proper medical evidence and documentation. The document envisages to fulfill the long felt need to bring about a certain degree of uniformity in approaching, treating and documenting cases of sexual violence, mainly against women and girls.
It will be brought to the notice of hospitals within the jurisdiction of each State and UT. It is incumbent on every government hospital in the country to treat rape victims free of charge as a part of their corporate social responsibility, even post treatment will have to be gratis. This would a step towards making India a safe place to live in.
Statistics pertaining to sexual and physical violence against women in this country are alarming as around one in three is likely to face this sort of violence in her lifetime. Thirty three percent plus is a big number while the approach to mitigating such problems has to be a holistic one cutting across boundaries.
The guidelines have been uploaded on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s website, inviting suggestions which can be sent to Director (H), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi.