New Guidelines on medical care to treat rape victims issued

Mar 4, 2014 16:30 IST

The Union Health Ministry on 4 March 2014 issued new guidelines for treating rape victims and has asked all the hospitals to set up a designated room for forensic and medical examination of victims. Under the guidelines it has also outlawed the two-finger test performed on them (rape victims) by dubbing it as unscientific.

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With these guidelines it the government has tried to draw a line to do away the terrible medical procedure, with which the victims of sexual abuses are subjected to. These set of national guidelines to deal with the criminal assault cases has been formulated by Department of Health Research (DHR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with the help of experts. 

Apart from the guidelines to treat the sexual assault cases, the DHR has also drafted a new manual to address the psycho-social impact of sexual violence. The procedures include counseling of the victims to alleviate their woes.

The newly issued guidelines says
• The time, when medical tests are carried their shall not be any third person in the room other than the doctor but in cases of availability of a male doctor, a female attendant must be there
• The new set of rules asks to provide comprehensive care while addressing the issues like physical injuries, HIV, Hepatitis B and others
• The patient should be provided with social support, appropriate referrals, counseling following the psychological effects
• The two-finger test that was used by the doctors to reach the conclusion that whether the girl is habituated to sexual intercourse or not has been outlawed as it is considered that manual recognition is not scientific and it shall not be performed
• The guidelines bars doctors from using word rape in their opinion as it is a legal definition
• The guidelines has made it mandatory for the forensic medical report to state it precisely
• It has laid down the provisions under which the doctors should examine such cases without an FIR if the survivor reports to the hospital first. Till now rape survivor examination was done only after receiving police requisition

Background
Dr VM Katoch, the secretary to GOI-DHR and Director General ICMR in November 2011 formed an expert group on Gender and Health under the Chairmanship of Dr ME Khan (Secretary, Sexual Violence Research Initiative) to formulate guidelines that can be used at Primary Health Centres and district hospitals, the places where rape victim approaches.

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Later, Indrajit Khandekar was given the responsibility to draft these guidelines. The responsibility was transferred to Khandekar, who is the in charge Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit (CFMU) and Associate professor at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) Sevagram-Wardha. He was referred following his study report titled pitiable & horrendous quality of forensic medical examination of sexual assault cases.

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