It will soon become mandatory for all government and private hospitals in the country to provide free medical treatment to women victims of any form of sexual violence. The refusal to do so will now be a criminal offence.
The cabinet is likely to consider this proposal on Thursday, which seeks one-year jail term for top bosses and the staff on duty of those hospitals, found guilty of turning away victims of sexual violence needing immediate medical care.
Following the outrage over the alleged delay in the capital's 16 December gangrape victim reaching the hospital due to procedural formalities, the government has decided to add this new provision in its Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill which will replace its anti-rape ordinance.
According to the latest addition proposed in the Code for Criminal Procedure :"Every hospital (government or private), nursing home and primary health centre or any other medical facility, shall provide immediate first aid and medical treatment free to victims of sexual violence."
It further states that the treatment of such victims should start immediately on their arrival in hospitals and the doctors on duty and the staff merely "need to inform the police through any mode of communication and not wait till the police actually arrive."
"A new clause has been added to section 166 IPC which states that those in the position of responsibility in any medical facility found guilty of refusing to admit or provide immediate medical relief to injured victims of sexual violence can be punished up to one year in jail," said a government official.
New changes are based on the logic that the attention should be on saving the lives of victims and not on fulfilling technical requirements of the police to take them to government hospitals only, said the official.