Alfiya (name changed), about 14 years of age, was kept waiting in a police station in Khajuri Khas in Northeast Delhi on Thursday night.
She was sexually abused and was waiting for justice but all she got was a long wait.
She sat in the police station waiting to be taken for medical examination from 11 pm on Thursday till 3.30 am the next morning.
Why the delay? Because her mother Zaira Bano (name changed) could not confirm her exact age.
The investigating officer (IO) wanted to conduct bone test on the victim to assess her age.
“The inordinate delay was because the IO wanted court permission for the test, which wasn’t needed in the first place. It is only when the defence counsel takes objection to the test that permission is sought,” said Ranju Sethi of Pratidhi, an organization working for rehabilitation of victims of sexual abuse.
There are scores of rape victims like Alifia who undergo the trauma of sexual abuse, only to be subjected to another round of apathy and insensitive behaviour on part of the authorities.
“Many times doctors are not even aware of procedures of medical examination and thereafter miss out on certain important factors in a medico-legal case, thus weakening the case,” said Raj Mangal Prasad, another Pratidhi activist.
These victims continue to suffer in absence of uniform standards for medical examination or notification of guidelines for the same.
The government is sitting pretty on two Delhi High Court orders/directives and a government committee formulated guidelines/uniform standards.
One thing the government is clear about is that it cannot put additional burden on bigger hospitals like Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital or Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, which are already hard-pressed for time and resources.
“We are in the process of identifying one hospital in every district, a list of which will be given to the police, where rape victims can be taken,” said Delhi’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Kiran Walia.
“We definitely intend to bring about a system in place, whereby no rape victim feels cheated in the hands of the government,” she added.