While the Maharashtra government was the first state in the country to agree to do away with the two-finger test in writing, the public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue is still pending in the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court, and in the absence of a notification, most state hospitals continue to conduct the two-finger test on rape victims.
The case may come up for hearing this month.
Dr S Nanandkar, head of forensic medicine at JJ hospital, who heads the committee looking into the changes needed in medical examination of sexual assault victims, said: “We have drawn up a seven-part detailed manual, which includes recording the patient’s history, a list of specimen
collection, opinion writing, treatment and checking for presence of sexually transmitted diseases, among other things.”
The manual has done away with the query about whether the rape victim was sexually active, and therefore, the need for a two-finger test.
The earlier Directorate of Health Services (DHS) manual barely recorded enough information about the victim.
The manual was drawn up in response to the court’s direction to the DHS to form a committee to look into recommendations made in the PIL, which was filed by advocate Vijay Patait and social worker Dr Ranjana Pardhi. The PIL was filed on the basis of a study conducted by Dr Indrajit Khandekar, assistant professor of forensic medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Insitute of Medical Sciences, Wardha, which pointed out loopholes in the medical examination of sexual assault victims.
The Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (Cehat) also made suggestions, which have not been followed in the manual. These are not including questions about the victim’s height and weight (to avoid impression that a heavily built woman can’t be raped) and her injuries (often victims have no injuries because of threat or other reasons), and recommendation that the victim’s consent be sought before medical examination and before reporting the incident to the police.
“These suggestions were made as per recommendations of the World Health Organization technical
committee and the changes made in the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Evidence Act. We don’t understand why they were not accepted,” said Padma Deosthali, coordinator, Cehat.
“Our latest submission to court makes it clear that a government doctor has to inform the police about the incident. Not doing so defeats the purpose of justice as the perpetrator will never be caught,” said Dr Nanandkar.