Ministry of Health – Guidelines & Protocals for Medical
I deem it a great honour to contribute this foreword to the Guidelines and Examinations
Proformae for Medico Legal Cases of victims of sexual violence, being brought out under
the auspices of the Ministry Of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. With the
publication of this compact document a long felt need to bring about a certain degree of
uniformity in approaching, treating and documenting cases of sexual violence, mainly
against women and girls should get fulfilled. Even so, there still maybe some gaps in these
guideline which need to be plugged and through feedback received from various quarters
further improvements can be effected in them. Thus, the exercise of drawing up these
guidelines has to be treated as an iterative one and the process would need to continue till
such time as a reasonable level of definitiveness can be brought into them.
The guidelines, have specially been drawn up for rape cases, although they could be used
in other cases of sexual violence as well. Statistics pertaining to sexual and physical
violence against women in this country are alarming as around one in three is likely to face
this sort of violence in her lifetime. Thirty three percent plus is a big number while the
approach to mitigating such problems has to be a holistic one cutting across boundaries.
We in this Ministry have taken the first step towards sexual violence mitigation.
The guidelines are essentially aimed at doctors who might one day be called upon to handle
female victims of sexual assault / rape in the course of their duty whether in a government
hospital or even a private one. Sexual assault victims cannot be denied treatment in either of
these hospitals when they approach them as denial has lately been made a cognizable
criminal offence punishable with appropriate jail terms or fines or both. As is known rape law
has been made more stringent with zero tolerance for offenders and through these
guidelines the aim is to ensure a sensitive and humane approach to such victims, their
proper treatment apart from attending or treating doctors responsibility and duty in
recording and documenting the medical aspects in order that such cases when they come
up before the criminal justice system are not found wanting in the quality of evidence
produced by the prosecution during trial.
Many a times it has been experienced in the past in such cases that medical evidence has
not been recorded and documented in a proper fashion leading thereby to a poor conviction
in rape cases.
We are in debted to Justice Verma, who was the first one to highlight the need to standardize
medical evidence collection during such victim’s treatment process. This Ministry
responded to the challenge and took the initiative in drawing up these guidelines. Here I
would like to specifically mention the contribution made by my predecessor, Shri. Keshav
Desiraju, the then Secretary/ Health and Family welfare, who realizing the gravity of this
issue, responded to the challenge and expeditiously set up a committee for framing these
guidelines in a time bound manner. We are deeply indebted to him for his personal
intervention, indulgence and guidance at every stage of framing these guidelines.