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Kerala HC: Guidelines For Protection Of Sexual Assault Survivors Not Implemented Effectively

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Police Protection For Sexual Assault Survivors: The Kerala High Court expressed disappointment on Wednesday on how many sexual assault survivors had to approach the High Court for police protection. The court said that the guidelines for the protection of sexual assault survivors are not implemented effectively.

As per a report by Bar and Bench, Justice Devan Ramachandran observed the issue while hearing a petition filed by a survivor who sought protection in light of harassment by not just the accused but also two police officers. The court said, “Without meaning to conclude at this stage that the allegations in the writ petition are correct, it still causes a lot of distress to this Court because, there are specific guidelines, circulars and orders issued by the various competent authorities with respect to protection of victims of sexual attack, including rape, but many times I notice that these are not being effectively implemented.”

The judge noted that the allegations made by the survivor are not proven yet. He still asked the authorities to considered the issue at the highest level as to how the mandate of protection of sexual attack survivors should be effectively implemented. The court said that this is a matter that “cuts at the root of the societal response to such grievous attacks and offences.”

The District Police Chief has been directed by the court to file a response on how the victim protection guidelines can be effectively implemented. This is to be done in reference with the State Police Chief circular which prescribes the way in which a sexual assault survivor needs to be protected. The court said that it is a matter of concern that the guidelines have not yet been implemented properly.

The survivor in the particular case alleged that the station house officer and a civil police officer of Thrikkakkara Police Station are siding with the accused so the survivor has been forced to go into hiding.

The judge remarked, “Right now, it (protection guidelines) only exists on paper; it has not been implemented yet. If this happened in any other country, the victim would have been protected and hidden away by now.”

The court directed the Commissioner of Police to ensure that the survivor’s life and her minor daughter’s are protected without involving the police officer against whom she made the allegations.

“Such protection shall be offered to the petitioner discretely preferably by nominating policewomen not in uniform who shall treat the petitioner with the empathy that she deserves,” the Court directed.