Major hospitals across the state, including Nagpada Police Hospital, which conducts medical tests in a majority of rape cases in the city, could soon have a uniform protocol on collecting evidence from sexual assault victims.
These hospitals would also need to provide medical treatment and psychological support for victims.
This protocol may include the use of a special kit – the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) collection kit – developed by non-governmental organization Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT). It was successfully pilot-tested at the civic-run R N Cooper Hospital, Vile Parle, and Rajawadi Hospital, Ghatkopar, between March 2008 and April 2009.
CEHAT representatives met state officials 10 days ago with the results of pilot project.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar said the government is "taking it forward."
Senior surgeon Dr SM Patil, in charge at Nagpada Police Hospital, said they are preparing a proposal for the state government. "If it is approved, the kit and protocol will be uniformly introduced at all major hospitals," he said.
The SAFE kit, an adaptation of the Ontario Police kit used in Canada, contains cotton swabs, gloves, nail cutter and other paraphernalia required for collecting evidence from victims. The kit was tested on 20 victims, including eight minors, at Cooper and Rajawadi Hospital. CEHAT found the kit helps collect a higher quality of evidence.
Currently, there is no protocol for collection of evidence in hospitals. During the pilot test, researchers found that provision of care often takes a backseat as sexual assault is seen as a "medico-legal case" and that doctors don't bother to seek the victim's consent at every stage of the examination.
"We want the government to introduce a model in which victims are provided care, counseling and treatment for short-term and long-term heath consequences," said CEHAT's Padma Deosthali.
How was 12-year-old's med report leaked?
Non-governmental organisation CEHAT has raised questions about the leak of the medical examination report of the 12-year-old Sakinaka gang rape victim from the Nagpada Police Hospital.
CEHAT representatives called the revelation "an absolute violation as the doctor works for the prosecution and does not have the authority to reveal any information to a third party without prior permission of the investigating officer or the court."