The syllabus of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology for second year MBBS and MD students in Maharashtra has been revised so that they can be taught to be more sensitive to sexual assault victims. Doctors will be taught that victims of sexual assault can go to the hospital without having to first lodge a complaint with the police. They will also be taught to treat the patients, and perform tests in a way that will help the police in their investigation.
They will be given a comprehensive checklist of tests, and will not need to await police approval to take time-sensitive DNA, sperm, nail clippings tests. Earlier, doctors did not have a checklist and followed an ad hoc process.
Private doctors are legally required to provide basic treatment to the patient instead of directing them to government hospitals. They will also need to change the language and the way they interact with sexual assault victims. They will not use the phrase ‘evidence of rape’ while producing medical findings, and they will now have to take survivors to a private room for examination.
The syllabus will teach them which language to use to sensitively deal with sexual assault survivors
Dr Indrajit Khandekar of the Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences has pushed for these new guidelines.
If we teach the old format and ask them to use the new procedure during examination, doctors will fail to handle the medico-legal aspects of cases effectively. If teaching and actual practice complement each other, the outcome will be definitely better,” he told TOI.
Khandekar had filed a study report called ‘Pitiable & Horrendous Quality Of Forensic Medical Examination Of Sexual Assault Cases’.
Let’s hope other states follow suit soon, and implement sensitivity training to doctors throughout India.
Also Read: Why Women Don’t Report Cases Of Sexual Assault At Workplace