'Significant Delays' In Medical Exam Of Sexual Assault Survivors: DCW Issues Notice To Health Department

In a comprehensive report, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal issued recommendations to address the delays in conducting medical examinations of sexual assault survivors in government hospitals in Delhi.

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chairperson Swati Maliwal

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal raised concerns regarding the delays in conducting medical examinations of sexual assault survivors in government hospitals in Delhi and issued recommendations to the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Government, to adress the same.

In a comprehensive report, the commission pointed out that while the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) laid down the Comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for “One Stop Centre in Delhi” guidelines (henceforth referred to as the DSLSA guidelines) under which One Stop Centres (OSC) were to be set up in all hospitals so that a survivor of sexual assault is provided all support services at the OSC itself, "at present, the scheme is not being implemented properly."

"Certain government hospitals in Delhi - Guru Gobind Singh Hospital, Swami Dayanand Hospital, Chacha Nehru Hospital, Hedgewar Hospital and Kalawati Hospital do not have a One Stop Centre. This is unacceptable as it is against the orders of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and DSLSA guidelines and this situation should be urgently rectified," the commission said.

DCW's observations

The commission also observed "significant delays" in conducting MLC examination in government hospitals in Delhi. "For instance, in some hospitals, survivors are made to wait over 6 hours for the medical examination. A survivor of sexual assault is already under tremendous mental trauma. It is a matter of great concern, if she is subjected to further harassment and made to unnecessarily wait for long hours in hospitals for the MLC procedure," it noted.

It further pointed out that in most hospitals, the survivors of sexual assault are first brought to the Emergency Room, wherein they are made to wait
for long hours. "The survivor should be allowed to directly approach the One Stop Centre as soon as she arrives at the hospital and should not be,
under any circumstances made to wait at the Emergency Room," the commission recommended.

Moreover, such centres are incomplete without an attached washroom and proper drinking water provision, the commission said flagging the delay in conducting the UPT (urine) test of the survivor due to the same reasons.

The commission also noted that at a few hospitals that the survivor is made to narrate the incident repeatedly to different staff. "For example, at RML Hospital, the survivor is asked to recount the incident to the CMO and hospital’s counsellor in addition to the gynecologist who conducts the MLC," it said.