“Twenty-one years of working as a nurse and I have never seen anything like that,” said a nursing sister from Safdarjung hospital, who was on duty at the gynaecological emergency on December 16, 2012.
The rape victim was wheeled in naked, covered only by a white sheet. She was conscious and in pain.
“She was conscious till she was given anaesthesia in the operation theatre. I can only imagine the kind of pain she must have been in, yet she spoke to all of us respectfully,” she said.
In 20 months since January 2015, the nine government hospitals in Delhi received over 3,000 rape and molestation cases. One-third of such victims were minors.
“In cases where the victim is minor, the guardians are reluctant in coming forward as the perpetrator is usually a relative. We cannot even counsel the child as they are barely able to understand what is happening. We try to tell them about good touch and bad touch, but that’s all we can do,” said a doctor from the gynaecology department of Safdarjung hospital.
The maximum number of rape cases — almost 30% — was recorded at Lal Bahadur Shastri hospital in east Delhi, followed by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (22.5%) in South Delhi.
Across the street from AIIMS, Safdarjung hospital receives at least one or two rape cases daily.
Little has changed in the hospital in the four years since December 16, 2012. Victims of sexual violence are required to visit at least three different building in the hospital, accompanied by a police woman, to get all procedures completed.
A victim is first taken to the main emergency building, where a cop sitting in a small room called the “one-stop centre” off the main receiving area registers a medico-legal case. A big pink register is filled in with details of the event and the injuries reported by the victim.
Then the victim is sent for a medical examination and is referred to the gynaecological emergency, about 500 metres from the one-stop centre. On the way, the victim needs to even cross the mortuary, either on foot or on a stretcher, depending on her condition.
At the gynaecological emergency, the doctor on duty takes her to either of the two examination room and records the physical injuries and collects samples using a SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence) kit.
“We have to take vaginal swabs, cheek swabs, nail clippings etc. We also need to take her clothes as evidence. Then, we need to conduct the PV test, obviously after taking consent from the victim or the guardian, if the victim is a minor,” said a doctor on duty.
Per Vaginal (PV) test, better known as the two-finger-test, interestingly, has been banned by the Supreme Court stating because it violates the right to privacy and dignity of the rape victim. It, however, continues to be a part of the routine examinations for rape victims at Safdarjung.
After a tetanus shot and a contraceptive pill, the victim is referred to the ART centre for HIV prophylaxis — a short-term antiretroviral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection.
Then, she has to go “somewhere” for counselling, said a doctor, who was clueless about where the counsellor’s office is. “We just advice HIV treatment and counselling on the prescription, but I don’t know where she has to be taken. The police personnel know and they accompany the victim,” the doctor said.