The public anger against the treatment of rape survivors has forced the government to look into the existing anti-rape laws and that also includes the crucial medical examination to ascertain the incidence of rape – generally done by government hospitals and medical centres.
CNN-IBN‘s medical expert Dr. Shubham Pant takes us through the existing provisions in the Indian law in connection with medical examination in the case of sexual assault and rape.
Indian laws do provide a proper mechanism, a protocol whereby there is a checklist that must be followed in case of medical examination of a rape survivor.
One, medical examination can only be done with the prior consent of the rape survivor.
Two, only allopathic government doctors, registered with the Medical Council of India are allowed to conduct the examination. There should ideally be a woman gynaecologist present during the examination.
Three, samples are to be collected from the genitalia and under the nails.
Four, a female attendant must be present during the time of the medical examination failing which the doctor can be charged with indecent assault under the law.
The two-finger test to determine sexual assault and rape has been phased out in certain hospitals though many places still continue the practice. This causes a lot of psychological and physical trauma due to the stigma attached to rape and medical examination of it in India.
Dr. Pant also suggested three ways which can improve gender sensitivity in case of medical examination of rape:
One, doctors should get compulsory formal medical training on how to examine rape victims.
Two, nurses and hospital staff should get certification courses on how to treat rape victims.
Three, trained counsellors should be brought to the emergency ward right after the medical examination.