In order to contain the trauma of a rape victim, the government has released a 68-page set of guidelines along with eight necessary forms on the medical examination of the victim. The biggest step to make rape victim’s life less traumatic is that now she can straightaway approach a doctor for medical examination without filing an first information report.
"In the past rape victim’s medical examination used to take place only after police requisition. Now police requisition is no longer mandatory for a rape victim to seek a medical help and care," reads the guidelines on ‘Forensic Medical Care for Victims of Sexual Assault’, notified by the department of health research in Union health ministry.
The document stresses upon that these guidelines don’t replace the conventional way of examination, but it is a supplement for healthcare providers in the country who attend to assault victims. From now on no doctor can use the term rape in his report submitted to the authority concerned as rape is a legal definition and not a medical diagnosis.
"No doctor can opine in report whether rape took place not. Opinion must be evidence-based," reads the documents.
The guidelines say procedure of medical examination is not only degrading but medically irrelevant. From now on the two finger test has been prohibited. It would be considered a breach of her privacy.
Keeping the recently amended Criminal Procedure Code to include a new section 357(C) in mind, now it is mandatory for hospitals both public and private to give first aid to the victim before informing the police failing which, the person concerned will face jail for one year or fine or both.
The guidelines say that doctor has to explain about the examination and its procedure to the victim and seek her written permission. If the victim is under 12, written consent of her parents or guardian is must.
"Nobody, not even the court or police can force the victim to under go a medial examination without her consent," reads the guidelines.
In case of guardian or parent being the accused, the written consent of superintendent or resident medical officer will be taken.
The consent form also states that the victim can refuse the whole or part of the examination at any stage."DUTIES OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS
- Providing necessary medical support to the victim of sexual assault and appropriate referrals as per the need.
- Obtaining informed consent from the victim/ patient.
- Detail Forensic medical examination and documentation.
- Collecting, preservation and handing over samples by maintaining proper chain of custody.
26 Dec 2013,
New Delhi, India