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Increasing Sexual Assault against Women-

A Challenge to Medical Profession

Dr. Shrabana Kumar Naik

Department of Forensic Medicine,
Lady Hardinge Medical College & Associated Hospitals,
New Delhi-110001
Ph: 9891224143 (M)
Rape is a heinous crime. Nowadays gang rape cases, rape cases against
minor girls happening here and there across the country are reported daily
in the electronic and printed media. Amendments in the section 375, 376 of
Indian Penal codes or new legislation against sexual abuse brought by the
Parliament after Nirbhaya case of Delhi found to be no deterrent for such
offenders. Recently, the honorable Supreme Court of India expressed its
anguish over the social evil and decrease in rate of conviction in such
offences. Involvement of juveniles in such crimes and their escape from
harsh punishment under the umbrella of Juvenile Justice Care and
Protection Act, 2000 is another aspect of public outrage in this regard. In the
above scenario, with ever increasing population in the vast India, inadequate
knowledge, experience of the doctors dealing such cases, inadequate
infrastructures and facilities especially at the peripheral hospitals,
inadequate staffs and infrastructures at Forensic Science Laboratories and
DNA laboratories, inadequate rape crisis centers across the country have
pose serious challenge to the medical professionals dealing such cases.

Key Words: Rape; Sexual assault; Legislation; Public outrage; Medical profession;

Crime against women not all

It started with origin of mankind...
Two of the greatest mythological stories of
India are built against the backdrop of
crime against women.
Ramayana..Abduction of Sita by Ravana
Mahabharat....Undressing of Draupadi
Common Headlines in Media...

Gang rape and murder of Damini at Delhi

Gang rape of Photojornalist at Mumbai
Gang rape of minor girl....
Rape of minor girl....
Gang rape of foreign national.......

Although Women may be victims of any of

the general crimes such as Murder,
Robbery, Cheating, etc, only the crimes
which are directed specifically against Women
are characterised as Crimes Against Women.
Various new legislations have been brought
and amendments have been made in existing
laws with a view to handle these crimes
effectively. These are broadly classified under
two categories.
The Crimes under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

(i) Rape (Sec. 376 IPC)

(ii) Kidnapping & Abduction for specified purposes
(Sec. 363- 373 IPC)
(iii) Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their
attempts (Sec.302/304-B IPC)
(iv) Torture - both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A
(v) Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC)
(vi) Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC)
(vii) Importation of girls (up to 21 years of age) (Sec.
366-B IPC)
The Crimes under the Special & Local Laws (SLL)

(i) Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

(ii) Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
(iii) Indecent Representation of Women
(Prohibition) Act, 1986
(iv) Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
Crime against Women.....

The statistics shown by National Crime

Record Bureau are only tip of the iceberg.

Many cases go unreported because of life

long stigma, fear, social boycott, police
apathy, lengthy court trial and many other
known and unknown reasons.
Reasons behind increasing Sexual
Assault against Women

Bad law and order situation
Sex ratio of females
Intolerance against gender equality and
increasing status of the women
Easy availability and accessibility of
pornographic literature, photographs, videos
through mobile phones, internet etc.
Social and Moral values
Reasons behind increasing Sexual
Assault against Women
Adopting western culture
Control over children due to nuclear family and
lack of time from parents
Callous attitude of investigating agencies
Conviction rate in the court of law
Urbanization, Dirty politics, apathy towards public
No Role Model ( Swami Vivekananda) !! Plenty of
Thugi Babas, Accused Public figures like MLAs, MPs
Standard of teaching institutions
Reasons behind increasing Sexual
Assault against Women

Thus reasons behind such incidents are

resulted out of so many ...
In the above scenario, there is chance of
increasing number of sexual assault victims
and accused coming for medico-legal
But are We ready to face such challenge ??
Sexual Assault against Women...

Eye witness are usually not found in such

Thus, diagnosis of sexual intercourse/ assault
by medico-legal examination serves as one of
the vital element/ corroborative evidence in
the court of law for either acquittal or
conviction of the accused in alleged Rape
But are We equipped enough to deal such
cases ??
Medico-legal Examination (MLE) of Sexual
Assault Victim

Victims of alleged Rape or Sexual assault

cases are usually examined by faculty of the
Departments of either O & G or Forensic
Medicine at Medical College levels where as
by any other doctors at peripheral hospital
levels, varying from state to state in India.
Advantages of MLE by O & G Deptt.

Female doctors may easily be available for MLE of

alleged rape victims.
Alleged victim will not reluctant to get examined by
a female doctor.
Female attendant may not be required in such cases.
No delay in examination- thus less chance of loss of
vital bodily evidences like injuries, Seminal fluid etc.
Treatment can be administered simultaneously.
Female doctor may show more sensitive and
sympathetic attitudes towards the female victim.
Disdvantages of MLE by O & G Deptt.

They are not well versed with injuries.

Even, some of them fail to identify the hymen...
An under-reported truth.
Opinion are very poor- lacking scientific and
legal angles.
They are scared to depose medical evidence in
the court of law.
They are treatment oriented, not too keen for
medico-legal duties.
Advantages of MLE by Forensic Medicine

MLE is their domain. They are well versed with

Opinion are very good based upon medical
findings and legal angles.
They are habituated to depose medical evidence
in the court of law.
They never afraid of medico-legal duties.
Disadvantages of MLE by Forensic Medicine

Female doctors are not easily be available for MLE of

alleged rape victims.
Alleged victim may be reluctant to get examined by
a male doctor.
Presence of a female attendant is required in such
There may be delay in examination- thus chance of
loss of vital bodily evidences like injuries, Seminal
fluid etc.
Treatment cannot be administered simultaneously.
Male doctor may not show sensitive and
sympathetic attitudes towards the female victim.
Advantages of MLE of victim of sexual
assault by Others

They are widely distributed across the

country, even in remote areas.
They are more in numbers catering most of
the health services to the society.
Thus MLE can be conducted at the earliest so
that vital evidences are not lost.
Disadvantages of MLE of victim of sexual
assault by Others

Lack of infrastructures and facilities at PHC level

for proper MLE , collection and preservation of
medical evidences.
Lack of basic skill and experience to deal such
Reluctant Attitude- referral to other distant
health institution cause delay in MLE, thus
chance of loss of vital medical evidences.
MLE of Accused of Sexual Assault

Again there is dilemma in dealing with MLE

of alleged accused of sexual assault- Whether
the MLE is to be carried out by either Forensic
Medicine experts or by urology and surgery
Why the Forensic Medicine experts are
running away from their medico-legal duties
is ill understood !

Non availability of SAFE kit through out the

country is another major problem.
Estimation of age of the victim is required in
case of statutory rape and rape of minor girl for
consent and quantum of punishment purposes.
Estimation of age of the accused is required to
identify juvenile in conflict with law as per
Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act of 2000.

Estimation of exact age of the victim or accused

by MLE is not possible at all. At best, one can
give the age till 20-21 years in range of 1- 2 years,
thus twisting the destiny of the case as per
defence lawyer or court of law.
Estimation of age by Medical Board composed of
different disciplines taking more time .
DNA profiling is expensive. There are only few
DNA labs against ever increasing demands.
1036 rape cases have been reported in Delhi in last 8
months. Thus after Damini case, Amendments
brought by the Parliament serves no deterrent to
such heinous crimes.
Therefore, all doctors irrespective of their degree
and discipline must be trained enough to deal such
Number of rape crisis centres must be increased.
Free legal aid must be provided to victim to fight
such cases.
Number of DNA labs should be increased.
Infrastructures and facilities at Govt. Hospitals must
be improved to tackle the challenge....
T H A N K Y O U....