The central government has prohibited the two-finger test performed on rape victims and asked all hospitals to set up a designated room for their forensic and medical examination.
These guidelines are among the many announced by the Union health ministry for treating rape victims. The Department of Health Research (DHR) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with the help of experts formulated this set of national guidelines for dealing with criminal assault cases.
The new guidelines are expected to end the humiliating medical processes, which the victims are subjected to after the sexual abuse.
The DHR has also drafted a new manual to address the psycho-social impact of sexual violence including counselling that the victims should receive to alleviate her woes.
These guidelines have been made available to healthcare providers who work with victims of sexual violence.
An experts' group on Gender and Health was formed by Dr VM Katoch, secretary to GOI-DHR and director general ICMR in November 2011 under the chairmanship of Dr ME Khan, secretary Sexual Violence Research Initiative, to formulate these guidelines which can be used at Primary Health Centres and district hospitals whenever a rape victim approaches them.
Later, Indrajit Khandekar, in-charge Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit (CFMU) and associate professor at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) Sevagram- Wardha was asked to draft these guidelines.
On the basis of Khandekar's study report titled "pitiable & horrendous quality of forensic medical examination of sexual assault cases", a PIL was filed in Bombay High Court.
The guidelines drafted were made available to public and experts and their opinion was sought.
Following this, the guidelines were released for circulation on December 16, 2013.
Khandekar, who pursued the matter single handedly, told PTI that he had successfully impressed upon the state government on how to handle such cases and now at national level too, the Centre has come out with fresh guidelines.
"It has been observed that the rape victims are usually put under a horribly judgemental microscope from the moment they call up the cops. They are often subjected to judgmentally attitudes by both the doctors and other medical staff in the hospital," he said.
"The new guidelines include that every hospital must have a designated room to deal with Medico Legal Cases (MLC) of sexual assault to provide privacy to the victim and must have essential equipments listed in the guidelines," Khandekar added.