Assessment on Health Systems Response to Child Survivors of Sexual Assault

Sama undertook an assessment to understand the health system’s response to survivors of sexual assault. The need for this assessment emerged from Sama’s ongoing engagement on the issue of health system’s response towards Gender Based Violence (GBV). Sama’s previous assessment findings on existing nature, quality, and extent of health system’s response to GBV, and the anecdotal evidence by healthcare providers pointed to particular gaps in skills, systems, and knowledge to respond to child survivors of sexual violence, and the need to do focused interactions on this came up.

Children who experience sexual violence have adverse effects on their health and well being which may range from acute to chronic health related problem including their physical, psychological, sexual and reproductive health. Laws on sexual violence such as Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012  specifically recognize the role of health systems and healthcare providers to provide services to child survivors wherein they are mandated to provide comprehensive care and treatment, and conduct a medico-legal examination in a sensitive and child friendly manner. Similarly, MoHFW Guidelines and Protocols on Medico-legal care for survivors of sexual violence has laid down clear guidelines on providing care, treatment, psycho-social support, and referral services to child survivors as per their need.

This assessment was carried out from October 2015-June 2016 in Delhi, in which discussions were done at two levels; one with the organizations in Delhi who work with child survivors to explore their interface and experience with health system while assisting survivors, second with selected public hospitals in Delhi who are providing response to child survivors of sexual assault to understand the current processes and systems w.r.t updated policy guidelines and laws, as well as gaps and challenges at the hospital level.

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