Fresh guidelines outlined on medical care to rape victims

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The Union Health Ministry, which has drawn new guidelines for treating rape victims, has asked all hospitals to set up a designated room for forensic and medical examination of victims besides outlawing the two-finger test performed on them, dubbing it as unscientific.

The Department of Health Research (DHR) along with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with the help of experts formulated this set of national guidelines for dealing with criminal assault cases, which will hopefully put an end to the "horrendous" medical process, which the victims are subjected to after the sexual abuse.

The DHR has also drafted a new manual to address the psycho-social impact of sexual violence including counselling that the victims should receive to alleviate her woes.

These guidelines have been made available to health care providers who work with victims of sexual violence.

A experts' group on Gender and Health was formed by Dr V M Katoch, Secretary to GOI-DHR and Director General ICMR in November 2011 under the chairmanship of Dr M E Khan (Secretary, Sexual Violence Research Initiative) to formulate these guidelines which can be used at Primary Health Centres and district hospitals whenever a rape victim approaches them.

Later, Indrajit Khandekar, in-charge Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit (CFMU) & Associate professor at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) Sevagram- Wardha (on whose study report titled "pitiable & horrendous quality of forensic medical examination of sexual assault cases" a PIL was filed in Bombay High Court) was given the responsibility to draft these guidelines.

The guidelines drafted were made available to public and experts and their opinion was sought.

Following this, the guidelines were released for circulation on December 16, 2013.

Khandekar, who pursued the matter single handedly, told PTI that he had successfully impressed upon the state government on how to handle such cases and now at national level too, the Centre has come out with fresh guidelines.

"It has been observed that the rape victims are usually put under a horribly judgemental microscope from the moment they call up the cops. They are often subjected to judgmental attitudes by both the doctors and other medical staff in the hospital. The new guidelines include that every hospital must have a designated room to deal with Medico Legal Cases (MLC) of sexual assault to provide privacy to the victim and must have essential equipments listed in the guidelines," he said.

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