Experts blame it on lack of training among gynaecologists, field doctors
Srinagar: Of more than 3,500 cases of sexual assault last year in J&K, only one culminated in the conviction of the accused. This abysmally low rate of conviction has been blamed on gynaecologists and other medical professionals who are not trained to handle the forensic aspect of such cases.
This revealing fact came to the fore during a training workshop conducted by the Department of Forensics and Toxicology, Government Medical College (Srinagar), in collaboration with the Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), an NGO working for the crimes against women.
A group of gynaecologists from the Valley’s largest maternity facility, Lalla Ded Hospital, and field doctors of the directorate of health services, participated in the workshop.
Dr Farida Noor, head department of toxicology at the GMC, said, “Most doctors don’t know how to deal with a survivor of sexual assault. It is important to record the chain of events and preserve evidences. The doctor should not counsel the survivor or start to judge.”
“The standard practice is to insert a finger in the survivor’s vagina. If the doctor finds the hymen is ruptured the woman is treated as having been assaulted. If the hymen is found to be intact they conclude the woman is lying,” she said.
However, forensic expert Dr Riyaz Khan, described the finger method as outdated.
“The healthcare workers cannot insert finger in the vagina of a women now. They have to believe whatever the woman says. Even if someone has touched the complainant inappropriately or fiddled with her private parts, her statement has to be taken seriously,” Khan said.
Dr Khan said doctors and gynaecologists should be aware of the fact that it is not necessary that the complainant must have the signs of the assault on her body or clothes.
“If a doctor here doesn’t find complainant woman’s clothes torn or injuries on her body parts, they do not pursue the case as sexual assault,” Khan said. “Rape doesn’t mean that the targeted woman should come forth with bruised body or torn clothes. Even if there is no indication that the woman is raped, a doctor has to register the complaint and pursue it as a medico-legal case,” Dr Khan said.
The National Crime Records Bureau has recorded 3,321 incidents of crime against women during 2014 in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2015, as many as 3539 cases of crime against women have been registered.
Dr Noor underscored the importance of collecting evidences to ensure foolproof cases are build against the guilty.
“Doctors generally take the victims’ blood samples but do not collect other evidences like clothes, hair and nails. All these things should properly be taken and preserved in a file,” Noor said.
She said the parents or relatives of the victim and the society in general should not stigmatize the rape victims but encouraged to file First Information Reports.
“This is the basic step for bringing rapists to justice,” she said.
The forensic department is contemplating to provide forensic kits to gynaecologists and field doctors to encourage systematic and professional handling of rape cases.