Many doctors attached with different government hospitals and health centres, who are supposed to examine rape victims, refer their cases to forensic state medicine (FSM) experts in medical colleges to avoid medico-legal hazards.
This trend has become the bone of contention for health department and FSM experts at a time when Bengal tops the list of atrocities against women, such as rape, molestation and assault across the country.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, 2011, has revealed this figure. But Mamata Banerjee’s administration lags far behind in taking action against the accused involved in atrocities against women. The NCRB report says that Bengal ranks number 15 in comparison with other states in the country in this regard.
“Any doctor, mainly gynae-cologists, can physically examine an alleged rape victim at state-run hospitals and health centres.
But most of the doctors are unwilling to do so, and refer the cases to forensic medicine experts to avoid medico-legal hazards.
But forensic medicine departments are available only in medical colleges,” professor S Batabyal, an FSM expert and principal of Midnapore Medical College Hospital (MMCH), said.
“Our state has an acute shortage of FSM medicine experts, who mainly perform postmortem examinations in cases of unnatural deaths, and examine sex organs of alleged rape victims at the request of the police. FSM experts collect swab samples from vaginas of victims for further tests in state forensic labs.
“No medical college has enough experts to conduct examinations promptly after police bring in such cases,” Batabyal said.
More than 50% of the posts of teachers in the FSM department in medical colleges have been vacant for years, while the number of rape incidents is on the rise in Bengal. For instance, there are only three FSM teachers, against six sanctioned posts in MMCH. At the Medical College and Hospital (MCH), six posts have been vacant for years.
At NRS Medical College Hospital, the figure of FSM teachers is six less than it needs.
To accelerate the system of physical examination of analleged rape victim, health department had decided to depute an assistant chief medical officer of health (ACMOH) as medico-legal personnel in each district. Most districts do not have such personnel.
“Courts can only confirm a rape case, while FSM doctors can only physically examine an alleged rape victim and collect her vaginal swab. We need more FSM doctors, considering the number of unnatural deaths and atrocities against women,” professor LN Ghosh, former head of the FSM department at MCH in Kolkata, said.